An effective leader is a significant asset to the organisation. At the broadest level, leadership coaching is used to help leaders gain and integrate new knowledge/develop new skills, develop more effective relationships or acquire new perspectives and new ways of structuring both their thinking and their work. A well-structured coaching program aids in the measurable development of leadership capability while at the same time providing a supportive framework for reflecting on actions and results. It is most effective when a commitment is made by all parties – coach, coachee and boss – to establishing agreed goals and assessing progress over a defined period.
Thornton Mack’s approach to leadership coaching reflects the respectful objectivity which is fundamental to our way of working. We seek to understand your company’s culture and the broader contextual issues you are facing before proposing a coaching framework and settling on who might be the best fit for your assignment. Coaching delivered by Thornton Mack is a programme of practical, customised, results-focused, continuous support from an independent counsel, who can assist leaders to develop new insight. We act as trusted adviser, bringing new skills, processes and thinking to facilitate change through a system of support tailored to the individual’s requirements and your company’s environment. Importantly, while directly benefiting from the coaching experience themselves, every coachee learns a set of techniques which enable them to more effectively act as coach for their own direct reports – a core leadership skill – which extends the value of leadership coaching in enhancing the capability of individuals and, as a consequence, achievement of the business results they and their team are charged with delivering.
In addition to many years of coaching practice, Thornton Mack’s Lead Consultant, Jacqui Wilkins, has been accredited in Marshall Goldsmith Stakeholder Centered Coaching. This very practical and commitment-driven approach to coaching has been proven to accelerate leadership success. The coaching process focuses on the coach and their relationship with their stakeholders as the long-term driver for change and growth, an approach which applies to any leader at any time in their career. During the coaching relationship, and after it concludes, the person being coached learns a suite of techniques to transfer that learning to others, with the benefits of the programme flowing through the coachee to their direct reports and beyond.
Even the most successful people may display behaviours that limit their effectiveness. Addressing issues related to executive style and impact is another common reason to look for coaching support. Giving your leader access to the right coach will reduce the number of issues raised about their performance and provides a private, encouraging and yet challenging environment within which the executive can explore their own actions, the consequences, and what they can modify to achieve better outcomes.
For leaders taking on a new challenge, coaching can both provide the enabling support and shorten the time to full productivity. Having a confidential setting within which a leader can ‘unload’ allows attention to be paid to what is possible rather than what seems to be in the way. As a result, the coachee – and their colleagues – can better meet their accountabilities. Benefits from access to leadership coaching include situations such as a leader in the early stages of a new job or role, or a leader taking on a critical project or implementing a change programme. In these circumstances the focus of coaching support is to provide guidance, and access to practical management tools and approaches, to support the leader in implementing new operating arrangements.
Finally, coaches are engaged to provide a trusted and supportive environment for personal reflection and testing out ideas
Coaching an executive leader
The boss of a high performing executive felt that some aspects of her employee’s operating style would benefit from the assistance of a coach. While the coachee was seen as a true talent, and a high performing member of the executive team, the boss was keen to support her coachee’s career progress.
After establishing that the coach and coachee were compatible and setting the ground rules for the coaching relationship, a series of meetings was planned to identify areas of immediate focus and longer term goals for change. Feedback from a range of stakeholders was elicited by the coach and used to inform the coaching plan. Review meetings with the boss and follow up between the coachee and stakeholders continued throughout the agreed timeframe.
The value derived from an initial 4 month period of coaching triggered an extension of support. In all, the assignment lasted 8 months and left the coachee with the satisfaction of measurable achievement, highly positive feedback from the boss and the skills to stay on-track in the future.
“Jacqui's thought-provoking insights have been invaluable in helping me get to the core of the issues that I was facing. Her approach was to deliver a program that felt highly personalised and tailored, yet called on research and current methodologies to provide a reference point for her observations. The investment in Jacqui's executive coaching services continues to pay dividends."
"Jacqui is an exceptionally insightful and perceptive coach, who displays that all too rare combination of characteristics - the ability to be an empathetic listener while still being able to effectively (yet kindly) provide advice - even if that advice runs counter to my self-image. I cannot recommend her highly enough."
Implementing a leadership effectiveness and cohesion program
Substantial changes were made to the structure and function of a major division, including creation of new service lines and a cross-divisional management function. The CEO needed to put sustainable planning and management systems in place for the leadership team – most of whom were taking on new or additional responsibility.
Thornton Mack met with the CEO and each senior manager to understand their concerns and identify key gaps in current arrangements. A terms of reference was drafted, to define working arrangements for the team, and a high level framework for planning and service delivery was developed. Following this, a two day leadership workshop was held to agree how the team would work in future regarding planning, developing the culture, managing risk and monitoring progress.
Each leader exited the program with a new set of agreed business methods and tools to use jointly with peers, a level of shared understanding with their colleagues and ownership of a joint plan. Individual managers were provided with guidance on implementation approaches for their group.
"We received so many favourable comments, all along the lines of; ‘I enjoyed the facilitator, who had fresh eyes on the work that we do. Jacqui should come back again’, ‘Best and most enjoyable planning day I have attended’ and ‘Useful. Focused. Timely’. Given the successful outcomes achieved and the positive engagement between Jacqui and my team, I highly recommend her as a thought provoking and motivational facilitator."
Director - Strategic Services