Minneapolis — Nov. 2
Managers and executives almost always opt for leadership development when asked what kind of coaching or training they would prefer, said Gary Cohen, president of Minnesota firm CO2 Partners, but people seldom seem to know exactly for what they are asking.
C02 Partners recently conducted an Internet survey on executive coaching.
“Leadership is a captivating objective for most executives and managers,” Cohen said. “So individuals feel obligated to choose leadership development, even if they have no clear sense of what it’s all about. Despite this lack of awareness, leadership ranks first on any survey of coaching needs.”
The survey asked, “If you were to receive coaching at work, what focus would be of the greatest benefit to you? (Please select all that apply.)”
Here's a breakdown of responses:
It is understandable that people would have an uncertain grasp of leadership coaching, Cohen said.
“This is the most ill-defined segment of coaching, or training for that matter,” he said. “To some degree, leadership is a component of any type of executive coaching intervention. On the other hand, there are so many different approaches and so little agreement on the core elements of leadership coaching.”
Cohen, who coaches leaders of small to midsize enterprises, said leadership coaching begins with self-reflection.
“People usually start out wanting to be like a leader they already know and can identify with, when the focus really needs to be on how to be authentically you as a leader,” he said. “An honest assessment must be done, and then a custom plan can be formed.”
For many individuals, on the other hand, their core issues are not related to leadership, and they would be better off with a different focus for their coaching, Cohen said.
“Sometimes a top executive will spend months seeking to improve his or her leadership skills, when they ought really to be improving job performance,” he said. “The desired coaching can be introspective, as well as highly focused on business issues and problem solving. A coach with perspective, if asked to provide leadership development, should also be willing to ask some clarifying questions to make sure he or she doesn’t miss the trees in the forest.”
CO2 Partners surveyed 3,447 individuals via the Internet, nearly 90 percent of whom are middle- to senior-level managers.