This weekend I plan to be on the west coast teaching a graduate course on Leadership Coaching. The books on my shelf give vague and conflicting descriptions of what leadership coaching involves. But from my experience leadership coaching includes a minimum of three components.
Leadership coaching is a process by which leaders and emerging leaders receive coaching and, as a result, improve in their competence as leaders, as career builders and as well-functioning human beings. Christian leadership coaching often facilitates greater spiritual growth and maturity. In his book The Next Generation Leader, Pastor Andy Stanley writes: “You will never maximize your potential in any area without coaching. It is impossible. You may be good. You may even be better than everyone else. But…. to be the best leader you can be, you must enlist the help of others…. You need a leadership coach.”
Second, leadership coaching teaches leaders and potential leaders to develop coaching abilities to be used in relating to others. From my perspective, coaching is a set of unique skills that are acquired, even though they overlap with management and therapy skills. Professional colleagues and students trained in counseling often assume that all trained counselors automatically know how to coach. My students quickly learn otherwise.
Third, leadership coaching is the art of using the methods of coaching to lead others. In an age when top-down, micro-managing leadership appears to be of minimum effectiveness, many people respond more effectively to leaders who know how to use coaching as a means for leadership. This is especially true if one leads younger people whose life perspectives often differ from those of us who are older.
Coaching is not some shining new method that solves all our problems. Coaching has limitations and undoubtedly is less effectiveness than some of its fans proclaim. But coaching, including leadership coaching, provides a set of skills that build on centuries-old principles which apply unusually well to the twenty-first century. That’s what my students are learning this weekend, in a class intended to be more like a coaching experience than a series of dull lectures from a visiting professor.
What is your view of coaching? And how do you view leadership coaching? Please comment.