This article is adapted from Sunny Stout Rostron’s new book, Business Coaching Wisdom and Practice: Unlocking the Secrets of Business Coaching (2009) which is available from Knowledge Resources (www.knowres.co.za)
As a business coach, you are helping your clients to learn from and interpret their own experiences, and to understand the complexity of the environment in which they work. Business coaching is essentially about the results experienced through the dynamic relationship between coach and client, and how those results impact on individual, team and organisational performance.
Within most organisations there is some confusion between “team coaching” and “group facilitation”. It is important for anyone coaching teams or groups to be skilled not just in facilitating group-learning processes, but also in teaching coaching skills and competences for individual team members who need to develop their own direct reports in a coaching manner.
Team learning enhances performance in the workplace
Business coaches encourage their clients to think for themselves and to develop an awareness of their own conscious and unconscious behaviours, which may influence performance in the workplace. Business coaching focuses on an effective, sustainable and measurable way of developing managerial leaders and their teams. I view “managerial leadership” similarly to the way Jaques and Clement (1991:4–6) describe it in their book Effective Leadership; I see leadership as a process and an accountable function of management, rather than as a role in itself.
Traditionally, the development of organisations and corporations supported business and performance development models, but ignored the importance of values to individuals and teams. This crucial lack therefore laid the foundation for the development of individual and team coaching – not just for leaders and senior executives, but for individuals at all levels in the workforce looking to enhance their personal and professional lives.
In working with an individual client, there is no point in simply developing a leadership plan in isolation from the rest of the business and team processes. If the coaching intervention is to be successful in organisations, it is critical to develop a systemic, fully integrated coaching strategy that is in alignment with both the business and the talent strategies for the organisation. Two key factors will be to identify the efficacy of internal and external coaching interventions, and the use of group or team coaching to develop key leader programmes that are often aligned with business coaching inside organisations as a way to develop talent at subordinate levels.
Coaching can help new leaders to manage their teams to deal with all aspects of transition, transformation and change. There is a strong link between business results and emotional intelligence (defined as self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and social skill). In essence, coaching ensures that leaders improve their emotional intelligence skills, leading to better organisational performance. This includes achieving an optimal balance between the needs of the individual, the team and the organisation. If the client has grown in term of self-awareness, the organisation will want to see this “demonstrated” at work: in relationships, management competence, leadership behaviours and EQ.
But, in order to do so – the coach needs to have an in-depth understanding of organisational systems: seeing the coaching intervention from a systems perspective, and understanding the need for “structure” in the interaction between coach, individual client, team and the organisational system. A danger of not understanding the “system” in which the client operates is that the coach risks becoming another part of that system.
Stout Rostron, S. (2009). Business Coaching Wisdom and Practice, Unlocking the Secrets of Business Coaching. Johannesburg: Knowledge Resources.
The hub of the coaching conversation is learning from experience, literally transforming experience into wisdom, and developing mastery of practice. Sunny Stout Rostron works with executives and their teams to help them to achieve individual and team goals as she believes both are crucial for organisational transformation.