2. Effectively Manage the Coaching Initiative

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One of John’s key learnings from the exercise that examined how

leader expectations for coaching were realized was just how little was

done to effectively manage coaching as a business initiative. For

starters, the business context for coaching could have been better

established. John’s approach had been, more or less, to ring the

dinner bell and see who shows up for coaching. This approach was

reactive, and little was done to establish the business context for

coaching. Several things could have been done differently. John and

Phil (and others) could have sat down before coaching was introduced

into the organization and agreed on the business objectives

that coaching could address. Then specific objectives for the coaching

could have been agreed to in advance. John and Phil eventually

came to this agreement, but they did so long after most of the coaching

had been completed with the leadership group, and therefore,

had minimum influence on the management of the coaching

initiative.

Conducting a needs assessment is another important aspect of

setting the context for coaching. John assumed that coaching was a

part of the solution, but when coaching was introduced into the

organization, he had little evidence to support that assumption.

Eventually, John and Phil agreed that the supply of capable and more

diverse leaders needed to be increased. A formal needs assessment

would reveal why the current supply of leaders was not adequate and

suggest remedial actions. Coaching may have been necessary to

address the supply of leaders, but coaching was probably not sufficient

by itself to achieve all the supply objectives. Other remedial

actions would be required. Improving the recruitment and selection

of leaders, for example, may also contribute to the solution. Or

implementing a cross-company succession planning process may be

a part of the solution. The needs assessment ensures that an integrated

and effective solution to a performance issue is identified.

Sponsorship is another area John could have done more to

support. Phil was chair of the partner development committee and,

thus, was in a position to be a strong supporter—or detractor—of

coaching. Phil’s issue was building the bench strength of leaders, and

he would have been in an ideal spot to sponsor the coaching initiative.

John could have worked with Phil to establish Phil as the

sponsor for coaching. As sponsor, Phil would have been more

involved with the design and deployment of coaching and would

Introduction to Coaching That CountsTM 7

likely have offered several ideas about how best to leverage coaching

for the business. John would have gained from Phil’s perspective and

expertise to better manage the coaching initiative. John could also

have ridden Phil’s coattails to gain credibility for himself and for

coaching.