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Adding value through leadership coaching

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Charlotte Randall

Every one of us can be perceived as a leader and will require at different phases in our lives to make this explicit. We have all had to plan, organise, execute and deploy on various levels in order to deliver an end goal. Invariably, we do not operate alone in the realms of leadership and rely on the skills of, and interactions with, other people to get the job done. It is these interactions that can create the biggest challenge for leaders and have the greatest influence on engagement and productivity. Similarly, leaders are faced with the seemingly relentless task of managing change with multifaceted interests. Responding to this requires resolve, resilience and a delicate balance of needs and energy to ensure progression in a proactive, rather than reactive, manner.

Transitional change towards leadership learning is evolving, through placing the learner at the center of their development. However, there can still be a reliance on a perceived expert delivering knowledge and I would argue that this methodology has minimal, or at worst, has no influence on practice if adopted as a stand-alone approach. There is definitely a place for engaging with leadership theories and models that are portrayed in the plethora of literature and leadership training courses, but the hard part (and the bit that often keeps leaders stuck) is how this knowledge actually relates to the context of their organisation, the personalities within their team, and how they identify their focus for change to transfer the learning into practice, achieving tangible results.

A catalyst for unlocking leadership potential, either attained through theory based learning or inherently from within the individual, is leadership coaching. How many of us actually take time out to reflect and question current practice, to identify the baseline from which to move forwards and focus on building the relationships in which we co-exist? How many of us can say we have honestly examined our influence intended and the influence felt when communicating through different media with others? How often do we say we have too much interference to perform our tasks fully, or we are avoiding difficult conversations that inhibit productivity? The key to enhancing knowledge development is personalising it to the current context of the learner, and exploring the challenges in an environment underpinned by values of confidentiality, trust, challenge and respect. Through a dialogue focused on reflection and solutions, an individual can be inspired to show up regularly as a leader in real time and, in a real live context, engage and deliver! The caveat here is that it is not a quick fix, it requires commitment by all in the relationship if it is to truly influence learning and add value.

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