The central role of a leader is that of a coach.

That said, it wasn't too long ago that having a business coach was like having a scarlet letter on your professional suit. Back then, most coaching was remedial--there was a problem that needed to be fixed. Today, having a coach has been elevated in status.

Business leaders have realized what professional athletes have always known--having a coach produces better results. That's a significant and necessary paradigm shift. Instead of symbolizing a problem, having a coach symbolizes a leader's willingness to develop and grow as a person and a leader.

Research from the Korn Ferry Institute supports this paradigm shift in perceptions about coaching. The research found that most people rate "coaching and developing others" among the top three most important leadership competencies, according to 360-degree assessments. Although this competence is rated highly, it is consistently the least practiced competency worldwide.

Why does this knowing/doing gap exist?

Leaders say it is because they do not have enough time; they do not know a proven process; and/or they believe it will slow down their immediate performance.

These reasons--dare we say excuses--carry serious risks. If you don't take the time to coach and develop team members now, you will pay for it later--guaranteed. Using a haphazard, gut-feel coaching approach, only when it is convenient, yields haphazard results. If you neglect coaching to drive short-term results, you will handicap your team's ability to sustain performance over time.

Coaching your team is the ultimate pay-me-now or pay-me-later leadership proposition. Applying a consistent approach to coaching others is fundamental to leadership excellence today.

A commitment to coaching also signals an organization's willingness to invest in its people. In today's environment of high-velocity change, factors like technology, product innovation, and unique distribution channels are fleeting advantages.

In fact, the only sustainable competitive advantage is an organization's talent, and that talent delivers its product or service. The coaching value chain directly links a leader's ability to coach his or her team with sustained growth and profitability:

  • Inspiring leaders coach teams to....
  • Build winning relationships internally and externally and....
  • Generate winning results that....
  • Produce sustained growth and profits.

Unfortunately, not every organization has the resources to hire external coaches. Therefore, it's critical for business leaders to be equipped as effective and inspiring coaches to their teams.