Self-awareness is crucial to leadership and the right coaching serves to heighten it. Over the years I’ve found that many CEOs and other senior executives seem to be aware they need coaching but don’t pursue it. Why is that?

I think it’s largely due to the fact that there is a gap between desire (what leaders need) and action (what the coaching program provides) and that gap is often enhanced by many ineffective coaching programs in the market. The hectic schedules of senior executives leaves little room for these leaders to neither endure nor tolerate shoddy programs. Malaysia has a relatively young coaching market but this problem persists even here.

What is the current leadership executive coaching situation in Malaysia?
When organisational coaching started gaining popularity in Malaysia around 2010 it was no surprise that the MNCs were the ones paving the way to engage coaches for selected executives. The GLCs and the larger PLCs however, not to be outdone, soon caught up with the trend and just within the next 2 years, the SMEs began jumping onto the “coaching bandwagon” as well.
A lot has changed over that short span of 4 years since the coaching boom first began gaining momentum here in Malaysia in 2010. Although there is still no formal survey on the current leadership executive coaching situation in the country but in my personal experience of leadership executive coaching for almost a decade now, the focus has shifted from one-to-one
coaching with external coaches to train-the-coach programs to produce quality, internal coaches.

In reality, the train-the-coach programs have produced somewhat mixed results as many managers are continuously struggling to cope with the additional task of coaching amidst their busy schedules. To make matters worse, these internal coaches lack a clear benchmark for reference as many have no experience whatsoever undergoing personal coaching themselves. It’s like trying to teach someone to fly a fighter jet when they have never even stepped into one before! So it all becomes tons of theory with no real-life experience to fall back on.

As for the one-to-one personal coaching, the uphill task clients face is to justify the ROI in these programs as there is no formally agreed mechanism to measure the success, or otherwise, of a particular program. Busy Malaysian executives today are therefore in dire need of a coaching approach that guarantees real growth and a measurement mechanism agreed upon by all parties.

What is the senior executive’s wish list to ensure that the coaching engagement they partake in guarantees sustainable and measurable growth?
Once again, there is no formal survey in this area, but in my understanding working closely with C-level executives as well as HR and L&D heads over the years, busy executives are more than willing to pay premium price on a coaching program but what they are not willing to do is spend their valuable time no matter how impressive a program without some form of assurance that they will get their money’s worth.

To that effect, you could safely say that their wish list would definitely necessitate:
1) Help to enrol in a coaching process that has grown leaders measurably not only in tens of cases but in tens of thousands of cases
2) Help to identify 1-2 relevant leadership areas to work on
3) Help to enrol the support of stakeholders for accelerated leadership growth
4) Help to guide actions through engaged support from stakeholders on a monthly basis
5) Help to measure and sustain growth scientifically
6) Help to work through the coaching process seamlessly

What are the critical success factors of a typical leadership executive coaching engagement?
This area has been researched and surveys report that these critical success factors include leaders seeing themselves as successful individuals upholding courage, humility and discipline as well as engaging the support of the stakeholders, being feedforward driven and utilising effective measurement of behavioural change. I will be covering these critical factors in further detail in future articles.

Why should the stakeholders be involved and what are their roles?
In creating successful leaders, it is essential to emphasise areas where the leader will gain most leverage on the job. One of the true leverage points in behavioural change is the stakeholders – the people who actually interact with the leader at work on a regular basis. In return for the support of stakeholders, a leader is motivated to go the extra mile to uphold the trust and faith the stakeholders have placed in him.

Inherent to the coaching support is the stakeholders’ vital role in measuring the actual growth of the leader by indicating to him the progress achieved and providing feedforward suggestions for the leader to consider, absorb and work on.

Can you briefly share how a coaching process that guarantees real and measurable leadership growth looks like?
The initial step would be to first conduct a survey to on the leader’s strengths and challenges after which it is advisable to help the leader select 1-2 leadership growth areas that will benefit everyone – the leader, his team and the organisation. A good coaching program will also enlist the involvement of selected stakeholders for their feedforward suggestions. All this put together will allow for the implementation of the relevant action plan targeted at manifesting the desired changes and the final step is assessment. The progress of the coaching plan must be reviewed quarterly to ensure goals are met and the leadership is successful.

As you can see, coaching not only impacts the leader but also the people around him. It’s a group effort. Do you think your team is ready to take on the coaching challenge for the success of your organization as a whole?


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