4 Ways to use Coaching: Skill, Performance, Development and Free Agenda

For those of us looking to share and deepen our coaching skills;

Coaching is no longer a buzzword, in fact executive coaching is now seen as a valuable adjunct to most executive’s performance. This highly personalized learning process adapts and flexes to each executives needs along a continuum of Skills, Performance, Development and Free Agenda.  What do each of these mean?  Guided by Robert Witherspoon’s insert in Coaching for Leadership [Goldsmith, Lyons, Freas] I’ve created this outline below;

Coaching for Skill: Skill refers to knowledge, skills, abilities and perspectives that enable an executive to take effective action.  Coaching for skills involves a dynamic interaction between executive and coach.  It is distinct from teaching, which relies on one-way telling and instruction; rather, it requires a deliberate process of observation, inquiry, dialogue and discovery.  The essence of coaching executives is helping them to learn, rather than training or tutoring them.  To coach in this sense is less to instruct than to facilitate (literally, to make easy)

When to use it:    I need to sharpen my skills for x, I know how, but I do  not always do it well

With who:   Executive, manager or individual contributor

Why: The primary focus is to sharpen an executives skill s for a current project or task.

What: Executive works with coach to: * assess current skills * Clarify expectations for current project or  tasks * Plan for skill building * Enhance effective action and * improve learning agility

Coaching for skills usually occurs over a short term, such as one or more sessions over several weeks  or months.

Coaching for Performance:  Performance is used broadly to refer to the executives competencies and his or her characteristics that contribute to a current role or job.  A related coaching role is coaching to correct performance for executives at risk, which looks to remedy problems that interfere with an executives job performance or that risk derailing a career.

When to use it:    There is pressure to improve x, I need to do a better  job at x, I am not aware of my  impact on x

With Who:   Senior executives, key performers, or executives at  risk

Why:  The primary focus is to improve the executives effectiveness in a current job or role.

What:    Executive works with coach to: * Assess current competencies of present job * Clarify expectations on present performance * Prioritize the executives needs for present job performance * Plan for continuing improvement

* Enhance effective action * Improve learning agility

Coaching for performance usually occurs over a longer term (several months or quarters)

Coaching for Development: Development is used broadly to refer to the executives competencies and characteristics that are required for a future job or role and may entail considerable growth.  Over time, an executives personal growth and development process is one of becoming more open (able to entertain alternative perspectives), differentiated (able to draw from distinctions), and integrated (able to weave these differences in to an increasingly complex whole)

When to use it: I am being groomed to advance, I am considering a career move to x, I am in the succession planning pool for x,

With Who:   Promising people and high potentials

Why:   The primary focus is to prepare the executive for a future position, a leadership role, or a career m ove.

What:  Executive works with coach to:  * Assess current competencies * Clarify expectations for future performance  * Plan for continuing development * Enhance effective action * Improve   learning agility

Coaching for development usually occurs over a longer term (several quarters or more)

Coaching for Free Agenda: Executive Free Agenda is used broadly to refer to personal, business and/or organizational issues or concerns.  Often this coaching covers important is sues for executives and their organizations that are otherwise overlooked, particularly during change initiatives, layoffs, or company downsizing.  Sometimes the sessions border on life coaching as the executive considers his or her life purpose and personal challenges.

When to use it:   It is lonely at the top, I am in over my  head, I am facing a big challenge at x, I need a talking  partner for x

With Who:  CEOs and heads of business or major business function

Why:  The primary focus is on the executives larger agenda, including business results.

What:     The executive works with the coach to: * Develop ideas and options * Prioritize the executives needs * Plan for the executives agenda * Obtain better support for the executives agenda * Enhance effective action * Improve learning  agility

Coaching for the executives agenda can be ongoing and is highly variable, depending on the issue.

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