I was recently in New York to present at the Conference Board’s 16th annual Executive Coaching Conference. It was amazing to be there with more than 150 leaders of coaching programs, all of whom are either embedded in or serving some of the largest and most impactful organizations in the world.
I left the conference mulling over three themes. Here they are:
1. Define your program
To maximize impact with your clients, seek to understand your strengths, the expectations of your engagement, and the partners you can leverage when appropriate. What’s your role as a coach and where is the line where that stops? For our program, this means knowing when handoffs to HR, Compliance and Training occur. Some of these lines are bright and obvious, while some are blurry but comfortable based on strong partnerships.
- Do your clients know what it means to engage with you?
- Where are the lines in your practice and who are the partners you hand off to?
- Are your clients surprised at the hand off, or comfortable due to clarity of roles and relationships?
2. Meet your clients where they are
To be successful as a coach, you need to know where those you’re coaching are on their unique journey. Each journey is influenced by personal filters, points of view, experiences and biases. And, beyond this, understanding tactical things — like an individual’s communication style — can have a huge impact on building a relationship and moving forward together.
Even if we use similar diagnostic tools in the beginning of each engagement, pushing directly toward change in the same way with each client can cause them to dig in their heels.
- How are you meeting your clients where they are so they take action at their own pace and style?
- Are your clients driven by their intrinsic motivations, leading to better, faster outcomes?
3. The value of coaching is evolving
At the conference, I heard about a company using chatbots to debrief certain leadership assessments. This allows the bot to push sustainment of a coaching plan between sessions. Rather than worry about how technology may take over certain aspects of coaching, the group was excited to hear they can continue to shift their value from the simpler activities to the more complex activities that offer more value.
- How are you leveraging technology in your practice to move your value proposition further away from the automatable activities to those things that are both human, and more impactful to the relationship?
- How do you communicate that value to your clients?
There is one final takeaway on which nearly everyone at the conference agreed: Coaching is hard. As you work coaching into your practice, ask yourself:
- What are you doing to build new skills?
- What other industries are you bringing best practices from to serve your clients and grow your practice?
Nationwide Financial has more than 280 people leaders who are certified coaches with the Worldwide Association of Business Coaches. Our program has been in place for more than a decade, and I look forward to finding ways to share what we’ve learned and what we’re working on in this spot moving forward.