Why Coaching is the Very Best Tool for Effective and Enduring Leadership Development

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Today’s business landscape has many uncertainties stemming from political and economic instability, evolving technology, and changing work behaviors and patterns. In these circumstances, it is essential to support leaders through executive coaching to help them navigate through the change and also retain employee engagement.

Confidence in senior leadership and career development are the highest two positive predictors of employee engagement. A study conducted by Mercer Talent Enterprise shows a 62% increase in employee engagement when line managers recognize and support employees. A 69% growth in employee retention was seen when employees felt managers play to their strengths.

Purpose and Impact

Research has shown executive coaching to help enhance emotional intelligence, set logical goals, experiment with innovative leadership practices, and develop critical attributes to predict future potential. However, for results to manifest in business value, it is imperative to align the program with business efforts.

A recent development initiative by Mercer Talent Enterprise focused on Emirati Women as Leaders, coupled with classroom training with personalised executive coaching. The six-month program included the Thriving Index® Psychometrics Strengths Assessment, high impact communication workshops, networking seminars, role plays, reflective discussions emphasising cultural and emotional intelligence, all followed by one-on-one coaching sessions. The program was successful with 100% of participants showing improvements in handling work setbacks, social intelligence and understanding strategy, etc.

Well-grounded facts point to executive coaching nurturing a team of high potential leaders. According to Mercer Talent Enterprise surveys, high potential leaders show a 23% higher growth mindset, 25% greater empathy, 25% more elevated sense of self-efficacy and 22% higher resilience compared to others.

Understanding Executive Coaching

Over the past couple of decades, we have seen coaching become a worldwide phenomenon and garner much interest. A study by CoachSource LLC observed that leadership development programs supplemented with executive coaching would most likely trend in the coming years. However, for coaching to be effective, one should approach it with a clear understanding of its value to the business and personal success.

According to Peter Bluckert, coaching is “the facilitation of learning and development with the purpose of improving performance and enhancing effective action, goals achievement, and personal satisfaction.” Being a confidential relationship, an inherent notion of neutrality is also vital to the coaching process.

In every organization, executives encounter multifaceted challenges and take calculated risks required to adapt. To facilitate this, realising one’s full potential with sustained, conscious efforts in the right direction is essential. Even though theory indicates people have the ability to do this themselves, most are unaware of where to begin or how to proceed. Executive coaching equips them with the mindfulness to act and make decisions in the face of adversity. It gives them the ability to gain insight from challenges and develop a proactive outlook.

Our definition of executive coaching is steeped in tangible behavioral change, where the trainee and coach work together to identify, commit to, and sustain long term changes in behavior. Beginning a coaching process with a comprehensive behavioral assessment allows one to decipher a clear outcome based on variations in behavior over time.

Process and Framework

Although there are various methods and models that give structure to coaching, the most popular is the GROW model, which stands for Goal, Reality, Options and Wrap-up or Way Forward. Here, the coach and trainee settle on a specific goal, assess to ascertain the reality, brainstorm for options of possible actions, and eventually wrap it up by designing a framework to measure the outcome.

Inspired by the GROW model, we have developed RISE coaching model, which uses a strengths-based approach derived from positive organizational psychology. We have found that solid psychometric assessments like the Thriving Index® and 360 Perspective Index® help the coaching process by providing tangible data for formulating a development plan. Organizations can also assess the coaching program’s impact and identify the return on investment. The RISE model builds a trusting relationship, establishes clear intent, lays out a strategy, and further discusses the execution of the plan to achieve long-term behavioral change.

At Mercer Talent Enterprise, we tested strengths-based coaching with a group of leaders based in the UAE. The 12 session coaching programme combined with formal training aimed to build leadership qualities required to drive business growth. The process resulted in executives gaining awareness of their strengths, areas of development and challenges, and developing self-confidence and commitment. They experienced improved well being and overall satisfaction at work.

Strengths – based coaching is therefore the single most effective and flexible tool for elevating executive performance, productivity and positivity which is available to organizational leaders today.