Integration

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Coaching is not done in a vacuum. In the case of PharmaQuest,

coaching was one developmental initiative as part of an overall leadership

development effort. The more all of the developmental activities

can be integrated into one cohesive effort, the greater the value

is likely to be from these activities. Integration optimizes the value

for the whole effort.What does this mean for coaching? For starters,

the coaching conversations can serve as a way for clients to reflect

on and deepen their learning from other developmental activities.

The coach, for example, can help a client reflect on how well he or

she led the action learning team to solve a product development

problem. Together, the coach and client can explore how effectively

leadership and communication skills were applied and what could

have been done differently.

Coaching conversations can also bring into sharper focus the specific

developmental needs of each client. The client is then better

able to seek those developmental activities that best address these

needs. Coaching conversations are a journey that may end up in

some unexpected places. The starting place for a client may be, for

example, setting clearer goals for a team. As the coaching conversations

dig deeper into the root causes for the lack of focus, what

emerges is not goal setting but rather the need for the client to facilitate

stronger partnerships between team members, fostered deeper

appreciation for how the various disciplines represented on the team

can work more effectively together. The real solution and development

need for the client becomes deepening his insight into the

underlying dynamics of the team and learning how to influence

them more effectively. The client may seek additional developmental

opportunities outside of the coaching sessions to address

this need.

Integrating coaching with other developmental activities is

accomplished through two major avenues: competencies and curricula.

Many organizations have developed and validated a set of

competencies that define success behaviors for people in the organization.

Leaders are assessed according to these competencies, and

then developmental activities, such as coaching, are offered to

address the competency gaps. For example, cross-business unit collaboration

and business acumen are two commonly revealed competency

gaps. Organizations, especially larger ones, are under a great

deal of pressure to have business units that are aligned, integrated,

and focused on doing the greatest good for the entire business enterprise.

Business units that act as a lone wolf—even if successful—are

no longer tolerated by the rest of the pack. Business unit leaders

must do more than run their own show; they must reach out to their

peers to collectively run the business enterprise, even if it means

suboptimizing the performance of their particular business unit.

Understanding the big picture of the business taxes the business

acumen of leaders. Someone who has spent his entire career in

manufacturing now has to also understand inventory and distribu-

tion and appreciate the special challenges facing inventory management

and the logistics of product distribution.

The learning curve for many leaders is steep, which brings us to

the curriculum. Developmental activities are meant to accelerate the

learning curve and speed a leader’s time to develop required competencies.

Coaching is an important piece of the curriculum, but not

the only piece. Action learning, job rotations, job shadowing, leadership

workshops, university courses, and other activities all make

up the curriculum for leadership development. Coaching may be

used to help leaders integrate all of their experiences, draw essential

learnings, and apply these learnings to their leadership responsibilities.

For example, a leader may be coached to build more effective

collaboration skills while she participates in an action learning team.

Coaching is most effective when it is integrated with other developmental

activities and grounded in a validated competency model.