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Coaching, Performance and Mindful Leadership

Organisations struggle with performance uplift, let alone achieving a high-performance culture. They look for answers in demotion, promotion, new profit streams, innovation, acquisitions, mergers, headcount growth, restructures and headcount reduction. Their most important assets, their people are the key to a high-performance culture which will benefit business performance. As Google once said, Culture eats Strategy for breakfast!

So if culture is critical to business performance, then those with a direct ability to have an immediate impact your Leaders. And, in an ever-increasing talent scarce world, the need to develop leadership internally is vital, and will put you at risk if not prioritised.

Masters, learning workshops and immersion programs are simply not enough, executive coaching is now helping to fill the void. Executed well, executive coaching enables leaders to transform their leadership resulting in improved team engagement and performance uplift.

The coaching relationship is one of trust, where the coach guides the Leader on a path of topic exploration, to challenge their thinking, apply tension and dance them through options that might seem impossible and wishful in thinking, holding them to account. And, to ensure the Leader has considered every aspect before auto-piloting to a solution which would have been habitual in their fast-paced world.

The learning methodology of coaching is one of deep reflection and contemplation. It is an opportunity for the Leader to be present and curious. It limits their habitual thinking and facilitates improved decision making for performance uplift.

The pace of change and transformation today is rapid, so for leaders to keep pace, they need the space to reflect, to process their thoughts and contemplate the disruption around them. They need to be challenged in a circle of trust that allows transparency and provides guidance so they may move forward in a considered fashion.

Traditional methods of learning don’t provide Leaders the opportunity to do this, as they generally focus on skill development. And when you consider the principles of Adult Learning, executive coaching utilising these principles to achieve growth.

Coaching also focuses on heightened self-awareness as often we are disconnected from the impact we have on those around us because of our untrained reflective practices.

In a learning model proposed by Lila Davachi, Associate Professor of Psychology at New York University (Dr Lila Dvachi, 2010), she refers to four critical elements starting with attention, self-directed learning, emotions and spacing (repeating over longer intervals provides our brain with the right signalling - supported through neuroscience research). Considering this, the most impactful learning methodology is captured in the coaching relationship.

The DDI GLF2014 supported a coaching pathway, with the report showing mid-level leaders gained greater value from coaching, and coaching as the third most effective method in leadership development overall. And in another report citing 23 coaching studies, there is a distinct correlation between executive coaching and greater change in the Leader's skills and performance outcomes, with coaching being far reaching, impacting not just the individual but also team performance, productivity, job satisfaction and business deliverables. (Korn/Ferry Institute, 2009).

Yet only a small number of organisations adopt coaching.

Coaching has become so fundamental to leadership development, that some organisations are now turning inside themselves to create a coaching culture. And with an increased coaching culture, organisations will start to develop more reflective practices that ultimately aid wellbeing, improved decision making and leadership excellence.

Leaders who have the means and ability to focus on what’s important have greater clarity. As a result, they make more conscious decisions that are likely to lead to greater wins, for the organisation, the employee and the community. And in a world where VUCA is ever present, the need to be present and gain greater clarity is powerfully relevant. The complexity of our digitally disruptive 24x7 environment demands more attention for improved decision making.

And so, creating space through coaching not only benefits an organisation's culture, performance and financial performance, it promotes the development and growth of the Mindful Leader.

For or more information, email or 0498 800 008. Melina Lipkiewicz is an IECL accredited coach, SEI certified and experienced leader with more than two decades building high performing teams

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