by Cameron O. Anderson and Randy G.J. Sabourin

The rules for work are changing. We’re being judged by a new yardstick; not just by how smart we are, or by our training and expertise, but also by how well we handle each other and ourselves. –Daniel Goleman

Corporate leaders face a future where the performance of their organization will rely on the ability to adapt their behavioral styles to meet the needs of their direct reports. Getting the most from an individual or your team means first having a way to understand yourself while accepting responsibility for the success or more importantly, the failure of business relationships.  The interactions of people within a team or externally with clients or other stakeholders does not fall into the same classification as controlling manufacturing quality or forecasting enterprise resources. If we accept that everyone is unique (as we believe ourselves to be) how can we apply the same coaching advice, or sales training, or decision making processes to everyone the same way. It is tried daily, and fails daily.

While “rapid cognition” and intuition are important elements of management coaching in today’s rapid fire environments, relying on experiences and values-based techniques for problem solving, learning and discovery (aka heuristics) is only part of it.  A reliable, repeatable process for positively impacting the behaviors of staff includes a full self-understanding of the coach. A typical management leadership failure often sounds like “…everyone is great at their jobs but they can’t work together… there tends to be too much unhealthy conflict and politics”.

Over years of Executive Coaching and building teams through our Team Dynamics engagements we have found that the best way to combine heuristics with valid and reliable behavioral insights about a person is a psychometric inventory called TAIS. This self administered tool measures how an individual pays attention, along with their leadership, social, communication and performance under pressure preferences.

The ASCI One-2-One™ Coaching Process is designed to help managers hone their coaching and leadership skills through self awareness and proven coaching techniques. Once a manager has been on the receiving end of effective coaching tailored specifically to them, they can begin to understand and apply what they have learned to their direct reports.

The ability to connect behavioral evidence from a psychometric inventory, empirical observation and third-party input on specific issues facing the coachee is a critical success factor for any engagement. Translating those factors into a development plan and monitoring execution and adapting the plan based on feedback keeps the process active until results are achieved.

But how…?

The following outlines the ASCI One-2-One™ Coaching Process:

       1. The Launch – Co-Development of Expectations

Each coaching engagement should begin here. Understanding what the coachee expects and, importantly, what the coach expects is a critical success factor. This includes how often you will meet, what the entire process looks like, a full understanding of the objectives and a results tracking system to monitor progress and outcomes. The individual and coach co-design the coaching framework.

        2. Gather Data

TAIS

Coaching begins with the self administration of The Attentional and Interpersonal Style (TAIS) inventory. TAIS identifies attentional preferences and interpersonal characteristics, helps an individual improve performance under pressure and determines specific steps that will help to comprehend and overcome any intra and inter-personal challenges in the workplace.

Live 360

The ASCI coach conducts confidential conversations with the coachee’s direct reports, peers, and leaders to gather some ideas for improvement from the environment. In some cases, TAIS can be completed by members of the team and/or TAIS questions can be answered by a peer or direct report in the form of a 360 to map divergence.  This step can be optional depending on the specifics of the situation. Sometimes interviewing peers and/or direct reports is exactly the wrong thing to do.

Debrief

The next step is to debrief the coachee with a full understanding of their TAIS and Live360 feedback and any other data collected thus far. It leads to increased self-awareness of an individual’s attentional style and interpersonal skills and allows them to fully understand where they are starting from in their approach to management. It also puts other people’s feedback into a behavioral context or frame.

         3. The Plan – Strategy for Development.

Creating a Strategy for Development ensures that commitment has been made and action will be taken. It may be helpful to associate several tactics or tasks to each strategy.  An important awareness for this step is the K-F-D Coaching Model (below). The coachee needs to be motivated to change in order to see results. The Plan should be reviewed every session and can be adjusted to reflect new information and successes.

        4.     Execute – Commitment

Both coachee and coach are responsible for the success of the coaching interaction but certainly the coach needs to monitor victories and set-backs in addition to leading the process. That translates to scheduling sessions without frequent reschedules. Consistent commitment to change is another critical success factor.

There is also a process that can be followed for each meeting that may be helpful to keep on track and get the most from the interaction.

        Prepare

Both the coach and coachee should prepare by reviewing the Plan and TAIS reports in order to highlight any behavioural attributes that should be considered during the session. Consider the tasks that were assigned during the last meeting and new challenges or opportunities.

        Create Climate and Set Context

Discuss the reason for the coaching session, review coaching values (below) and create an environment that is relaxed, open, and trusting. Coaching sessions should not be adversarial or feel like punishment. It is the responsibility of the Coach to keep the session on track therefore starting from a positive position is very important.

        Explore

This step is the primary substance of the process, an open and frank discussion on recent events, outcomes from tasks, and new opportunities or challenges. Pay particular attention to both coach and coachee distractions in order to keep on track. Keep notes for future reference and always track-back to the Plan for next steps and new tasks.

        Follow up

Follow up and setting the next meeting date and time is the final step of the process. Make sure to review all of the tasks from the coaching sessions, confirming commitment and responsibilities. It is important to set the next meeting to establish a commitment to the coaching process. Interestingly, some coachee’s prefer morning meetings before their day begins in earnest or late day after the days challenges have been met. The timing of meetings can often determine the success of the session.

In addition, establishing coaching values is often a worthy process for the coach and the organization to embark upon. It becomes a foundation and frame of reference for the interaction and helps calm an interaction that may be initially perceived as negative, frightening or adversarial.  ASCI has established a set of core values that drive all of our coaching engagements.

Coaching Values:

Be Specific and Contextual

  • Tie behavioural examples to specific instances or feedback
  • Consider the vantage point, it can clarify the purpose or motivation for actions or behaviors
  • Any coaching feedback should tie back to the plan and strategy

Be Balanced

  • Discover strengths and weaknesses, look at alternatives
  • Consider solutions that are behavior based, skills & competencies, attributes, politics, interpersonal communication, and conflict resolution

Be Respectful

  • Consider the perspective, the challenges and choices made
  • Critical to understand the other person
  • The coach’s job is help the coachee be better, reinforce positively

Leadership coaching develops an honest and personal relationship with an individual and therefore comes with responsibility. It involves communicating and relating objective feedback and guidance to facilitate productive change. Managers who participate in the coaching process will increase their own self awareness and are able to focus more clearly on priorities and effectively communicate and interact with their peers and direct reports.

Our current environment of constant change and increasing pressure demands leaders who are committed to self awareness. Excellent leadership coaching develops individuals to lead with purpose beyond their daily distractions and duties.

3 Responses to “Leadership Coaching: The “Follower” Based Model”

  • Nathaniel Wissinger:

    Great post, if only all leaders thought they were responsibly to adapt their style to their followers. I’ve past this link around to our leadership team, thank you.

  • Gillian Uong:

    Thanks for the post. I have constantly noticed that leaders think its about them. It took a long while to figure this out and really think and care about the people that report to me. Wish I had read your blog a few years ago.

  • Antone Ebadi:

    I am regular reader, how are you everybody? This post is great as usual!

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