Common Topics in Leadership Coaching

coaching4Clients usually seek out a leadership coach initially due to a challenging issue or set of issues that have arisen in their work life.  Examples of common topics can include:

  • Conflict with a direct report, a peer, boss or board member(s)
  • Wanting to improve a particular skill area such as team leadership or communication skills
  • Concerns about how to turn around an increasingly negative work environment
  • Improving impact and effectiveness as a leader after a negative experience
  • Assistance sorting through the implications of a reorganization or change in role
  • Addressing inter-generational conflict in working styles, pacing and norms
  • Understanding organizational resistance to change and exploring steps to counter it
  • Support and strategies for improving organizational work climate following an incident
  • Assistance in better managing the activities and tone of dysfunctional board committees
  • Help in developing engagement agreements for a team with conflicting work styles
  • Improving “leadership presence”
  • Developing a strategy for breaking down the silos in a leader’s organization
  • Improving the level and quality of collaboration with other organizational partners

While workplace challenges are the most common impetus for clients to seek out a leadership coach, there are other reasons as well.  Most of these reasons center around efforts to maintain or further enhance a positive situation.  Here are some examples:

  • Clients who have resolved a past issue or challenge through coaching often come to see coaching as an ongoing approach for improving their leadership impact and effectiveness
  • Leaders wanting to improve organizational climate regarding diversity and social justice issues frequently utilize a coach to help develop initial plans that will be refined and then implemented by the senior management team.
  • An organization adopts leadership coaching to facilitate onboarding for all new executive hires
  • A new CEO who utilizes a leadership coach has asked members of her senior management team to consider leadership coaching to improve their individual and group effectiveness
  • A newly promoted client wants assistance from a coach in taking on the new role
  • A client wants to explore how best to approach and roll out a complex change project
  • An executive director seeks assistance in developing a more collaborative, cross-functional work climate
  • HR introduces a new menu of leadership development activities that includes coaching
  • A successful leader wants to further improve his or her leadership style with direct reports

Leadership coaching has evolved from a counseling and problem-solving orientation in the 1960s and 1970s to its current coaching mode and affirming orientation.  Leadership coaching still often addresses clients’ challenges but now also explores their development opportunities, especially for leaders who are already performing well but want to do even better.  Although leadership coaching was adopted and widely promoted in the private sector over the past two decades, it is now becoming more valued in the non-profit sector and in medical and legal organizations.  Unfortunately, adoption of leadership coaching has been lagging in the public sector and education, where it is still not viewed as a legitimate (and reimbursable) form of professional development.  Despite this organizational reluctance to utilize leadership coaching generally, it’s a little known fact that upper-level administrators in the public sector and education are increasingly utilizing leadership coaches, usually paying out of pocket to circumvent cumbersome procurement procedures and to keep their use of coaching confidential.  Fortunately for them, the costs of leadership coaching can usually be a tax deduction.