Coaching as a leadership and organisational development intervention
HR must utilise coaching as a leadership and organisational development intervention to derive true value.
In my article “Five Coaching Hazards” in HR Future (Feb, 2010: 28-31), I had cautioned against uncoordinated executive coaching with an individual personal mastery focus. I subsequently advised HR to play a central role in procuring and managing coaching services in their organisations. In the last couple of years I have been privileged to be involved in various large scale coaching interventions. I can consequently report on criteria for executive coaching as a Leadership and an Organisational Development Intervention.
In the leadership development field voices are also loud on interventions that have to focus on more than personal mastery of the individual leader (Cummings & Worley, 2009). For instance, Ulrich and Smallwood (2007:95) warn that by “focusing on the desirable traits of individual leaders, the firms ended up creating generic models. And vanilla competency models generate vanilla leadership”. Veldsman (2012) also advocates for corporate universities to ensure company specific leadership competency models. In my book Coaching Leaders: The 7 ‘P’ Tools to propel change, I emphasized the value of coordinated integrated executive coaching interventions. I called it “Large Scale Coaching Interventions” and provided a structured process and evaluation tool for these interventions (Scheepers, 2012a).
In table 1 below, traditional executive coaching that takes place as sporadic, ad hoc sessions in organisations, is compared to these large scale coaching interventions, where for instance 30 to 40 leaders are involved in for example a yearlong coaching process and 10 to 15 coaches conduct coaching. Typically, coaching supervision during these interventions revolves around trends across different leaders’ coaching sessions. Subsequently reports and recommendations to the organisation are centered on bigger picture issues such as organisational structure, -culture and -climate (Scheepers, 2012b). As such, coaching could be utilised for embedding a culture change in the organisation.
Scheepers (2012a:258) provides an illustration of this integrated process, where coaching is directed towards a leadership blueprint that originated from the strategy of the organisation. Coaching sessions revolve around the individual leader’s needs as well as the requirements of the organisation and the triadic relationship is consequently emphasised.
When executive coaching is utilised exclusively for derailing executives, coaching is associated with punishment instead of development of talent (Scheepers, 2010). In contrast, large scale coaching interventions typically include high potentials and improve an organisation’s leadership bench strength. Team coaching of intact and cross-functional teams forms part of this blended approach, as well as some class room training on leadership coaching and mentoring principles, and action learning activities. For a summary of the criteria for executive coaching as a leadership and organisational development intervention, see table 1 below.
Table 1: Comparing Traditional Ad hoc Executive Coaching to Large Scale Coaching Intervention as a Leadership and an Organisational Development Intervention
Cummings, TG & Worley, CG. (2009). Organisational development & change. Mason (OH): South-Western Cengage Learning.
Scheepers, C. B. (2010). Five Coaching Hazards. HR Future, February, 28–31.
Scheepers, C. B. (2012a). Coaching Leaders: The 7 P Tools to propel change. Rosebank: Knowledge Resources.
Scheepers, C. B. (2012b). Exponential growth in Supervision, whether individual or group, requires a coaching approach. ComensaNews, June, 1–3.
Ulrich, D. & Smallwood, N. (2007). Building a Leadership Brand. Harvard Business Review, July-Aug, 93-100.
Veldsman, T. (2012). Growing future-fit leadership: A leading practices perspectives. Unpublished paper delivered at Leadership Development Conference, 30 May 2012. Sandton: Knowledge Resources.
Dr Caren Scheepers is a Director at Irodo Consulting, www.irodo.com.