Choosing the Leadership Trifecta
We believe all people deserve to be led by skilled leaders. We also believe that people in leadership roles deserve support to continuously upgrade their leadership skills. When both of these occur, workplaces become magnificent hubs for purposefulness, where people deploy their energy, their creativity and their near-infinite skills. And by doing so, they find personal satisfaction and drive considerable business value.
We don’t espouse this belief as a theory. We experienced it first hand in our roles in the US and Europe. When we led well, our people were tightly aligned with our business goals and did great work. They went home happy and came to work early with positive energy and commitment. When we led poorly, however, people’s energy turned negative. They went home more stressed and came to work apathetic and disgruntled. Sometimes it kept us up at night. It always triggered soul searching and raised concerns about losing talent.
As it turned out, we depended exclusively on our innate leadership skills. Sure, we participated in several leadership off sites and seminars sponsored by our employers, and they were better than nothing. But they weren’t close to enough— few of the lessons stuck, many became obsolete and nothing uncovered our blind spots nor our resistance to personal change.
We believe skilled leadership coaching delivers a trifecta of powerful benefits to organizations:
- Employees are more aligned with and committed to their work.
- People leaders feel more confident, and this confidence spills over into their practice of other key competencies.
- The synergy between skilled people leaders and their team creates multiplier effects.
Defining Skilled Leadership
Managers employ a mix of competencies to create business value. One of the most potent, underdeveloped and misunderstood arrows in a manager’s business-value quiver is skilled leadership.
So what is skilled leadership?
While there are many definitions, most coalesce around this: the ability to align and integrate human efforts and interests with business goals.
This ability, and by extension a leader’s success, is anchored in five positive behaviors:
- Shaping, influencing and articulating a unifying and relatable vision and strategy.
- Fostering an environment that encourages participation and openness.
- Facilitating and creating platforms that recognize and showcase others’ success.
- Removing obstacles.
- Acting as a trusted adviser and confidant.
The business value created by employees is tightly correlated with a manager’s exercise of these five positive behaviors. When a manager is a skilled leader and cultivates a positive work environment, the teams they lead:
- Find more energy to innovate.
- Deliver higher quality products and services.
- Advance the interests of the organization.
When a manager is an unskilled leader and creates a negative work environment, employee energy and interest for work is depleted, depressing business value creation.
The cost of unskilled leadership is considerable. Disengaged employees perform well below their potential. Negative team dynamics lead to what economists call “deadweight loss.” When either of these occurs, talented people eye the exit door. And if this continues, organizational reputations suffer, raising the cost of replacing lost talent and potentially market demand.
Strengthening leadership skills is not a free lunch: it requires a commitment to and investments in coaching. So you may ask, for every dollar and hour you invest in leadership skill development, what will be the return to your organization?
While quantifying the precise value of leadership coaching is impossible, as an organization, the new skills your leaders acquire will produce invaluable long-term gains.
Growth impact: Skilled leaders cultivate more engaged employees who work harder, work smarter, and express greater work satisfaction and happiness.
Financial cost: Recruiting talent is expensive. The opportunity cost of lost talent during the search to replace talent is even more costly. The research all supports this: skilled leadership leads to higher retention rates.
Brand power: It’s hard to keep it a secret when an organization lacks skilled leadership. Bad leadership quickly spreads on social platforms and customers take note. Ask your marketing team how badly this will lower your sales.
Leadership Skills Are Learned
Years ago, leadership was considered a fixed, innate quality. Either you had it or you didn’t. And if you didn’t, well, you were out of luck. Today, we know that great leaders aren’t born—they’re made. It’s a truth that neuroscientists have proven beyond a doubt.
But here’s the million-dollar question: how are great leaders cultivated? Is reading a Harvard Business Review article enough? What about reading a few top 10 business leadership books? Or participating in a series of group seminars or videos from LinkedIn Learning?
The truth is, we believe the only way to meaningfully accelerate and sustain leadership growth and development is through one-on-one coaching. That’s not to say that all people need leadership coaching to satisfactorily lead teams. Some already possess adequate skills to effectively lead people. Most, however, struggle. They struggle with the transition to a people leadership role and clumsily adapt to change. This often leads to a toxic work environment, employee burnout and a decline in customer and partner satisfaction.
Consequences and Risks of Unskilled Leadership
Without support, leaders will improve organically as they discover the behaviors that work best in predictable circumstances. This approach to leadership development, however, carries significant risks.
First, successful leaders are adaptive. When they find themselves in new territory, they access new behaviors. Through coaching, leaders learn how to creatively adapt to new situations and sustain their leadership effectiveness.
Second, as under-skilled leaders stumble their way through change, the performance cost to the organization is considerable. In addition to the negative financial impact, without skilled leadership, a disappointed team leads to a downward spiral, further diminishing performance.
Third, a pattern of poor leadership seeds dysfunctional organizations, and dysfunctional organizations compete poorly in markets. Research shows this negativity spills over into customer and partner relationships..
Last, if the leader has a modicum of self-awareness, he or she will feel humiliated. And this disagreeable feeling will be embodied in their leadership behavior, often creating a toxic work environment.
Mach10’s Skilled Leadership Program
Investing in your organization’s leadership ability is a deliberate competitive strategy that drives performance. Skilled leadership coaching is a powerful instrument to support this strategy.
At an individual level, Mach10’s leadership program is organized into five phases and generally lasts about three to six months.
Phase 1: Foundations
At the start of each engagement, clear goals will be established. We will precisely define the qualities of the change and the desired outcome. We will also discuss how coaching works, our mutual roles, the confidentity, and the importance of mutual trust.
Subsequent coaching sessions will start with setting session-specific objectives that align with the overall development goals already established.
Phase 2: External Feedback
Mach10 will conduct 30 minute, one-on-one interviews with at least five colleagues, generally including two direct reports, two peers and the leader’s boss. The purpose of this discovery is to provide the coach with more information about the workplace environment in which the leader is operating. This contextual information strengthens the coaches ability to guide the coaching process.
Phase 3: One-on-One Coaching Sessions
The coaching process will involve dialogue, inquiry, joint exploration of possibilities, experimentation, and action planning, all designed to increase the individual’s self-awareness, expand their interpersonal dexterity and perception of the range of available choices. This process, leading to the practice of new approaches and skills, provides the foundation for the client’s sustained change for more effective leadership performance and personal satisfaction.
The one-on-one coaching phase generally lasts three to six months. In the first month, we meet with leaders weekly for one hour sessions; in subsequent months, meetings are held bi-weekly. In addition to continuous experimentation of new skills, an action plan will be co-created, designed for positive change in leadership effectiveness.
Following the first month of coaching, an EQ-360 assessment may be administered to create more awareness of emotional strengths and weaknesses. By including both your responses and the perceptions of others, this assessment will provide a comprehensive picture of your emotional competencies, adding more awareness of strengths and weaknesses and feeding into an action plan for change.
Phase 4: Measuring Change Progress
At the end of Phase 3, Mach10 will conduct 30 minute, one-on-one interviews with the same colleagues previously interviewed. The purpose of these interviews is to assess perceptions of how the leader has changed since the leadership coaching began. In aggregate, this information is then fed back to the leader to build awareness of progress and gaps in desired behavioral changes.
Phase 5: Assimilation
A final session is held to review what new behavioral skills the leader has learned, facilitate the assimilation process and summarize the behavioral changes made. Feedback from colleagues is also shared and discussed, for the purpose of creating a new action plan for future leadership growth.
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Call me: 617-529-8795