The Leader as Coach by Ipek Serifsoy |
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The Leader as Coach

In today’s organizational world the leader role is dramatically evolving. During the past few years as more agile organizational structures and cultures have come into favor, leaders are being called upon to act as coaches.

Once upon a time leaders were expected to embrace a command and control style. Then, not long ago, leaders were expected to inspire by being bold, visionary, and charismatic.

Today, progressive organizations expect leaders to be humble and of service: thought partners with their direct reports and cross-functional colleagues, helping them to become their best selves.

The “leader as coach” phenomenon supports contemporary organizational goals for practicing leadership at all levels and creating environments where everyone can be brave to speak up and contribute their unique perspectives. Forward-looking organizations aspire to create environments where people feel empowered to act quickly without awaiting guidance from their managers. They want people to feel well-connected to others in the organization and to the organization’s purpose, and to be able to authentically flex, and be nimble, courageous and innovative.

These pioneering organizations are equipping
their leaders with coaching capacities.

As coaching conversations become a bigger and bigger part of a leader’s role, many executives are learning classic coaching skills such as deep listening, asking good questions, providing observations, guidance and feedback. The aim of these conversations is to help the ‘coachees’ think about themselves, others and situations in more creative ways and to help them develop greater self-awareness.

Underlying coaching skills is a core capacity
that, when missed, can cause unintended consequences.

This core capacity is Coaching Presence – a way of being that enables a more potent and authentic embodiment of the coaching skills described above. Coaching skills, when used without Coaching Presence, can leave the coachees at best feeling they had a purely intellectual experience, and at worst feeling manipulated. In either case, real heartfelt change is often missed.

Coaching Presence takes into account the full being of the coach in equal proportion to the coachee. This is counterintuitive to active listening and other interpersonal orientations we’ve been taught that put 80% or more focus on the other person. With Coaching Presence, the coach is a vessel for facilitating change and transforming others. The coach’s presence-based participation in the coaching conversation enables the coach to track and attend to nuanced yet incredibly powerful dynamics within the coach, the coachee, and the field created between the two. This dynamic oftentimes goes unnoticed and can unconsciously subvert the conversation.

If you would like to learn more about Deep Coaching Institute’s Building Coaching Presence for Leaders program, please click here.

by Ipek Serifsoy