There are many articles about leadership, and leader as coach. I recently became curious as to how the term coach came about, and in particular, how it was first applied to leaders. I started where I start all of my research, with the dictionary, to discover the root of the word. The word 'coach' is derived from the French word coche, which means a carriage that transports people from one location to another. Coach was first applied in a new way to mean teacher, or educator; one who helps move people from one state to another through education. The sports use of the word came later as a means of describing how one helps a sports team perform and raise their level of performance to a new place. Coach, in the sense that we use it today is a fairly recent evolution where the coach is the means by which people move from one state to another. I love this, and what it means to the coaching profession. As someone trained as an adult educator and having spent a good portion of my career in learning and development, this latest use of the word has particular meaning for me. I firmly believe in the power of education and outside of the classroom, most of my learning has come from the mentors and coaches I have been fortunate to have in my life. They have inspired me to mentor, and ultimately to become a coach.
But let's look a little more closely at leader as coach. Gone are the days when a leader sat in the corner office and spewed commands at his staff, expecting them to simply do their jobs forever. With the advent of servant leadership, and other less dictatorial leadership styles, leaders have recognized the advantage of developing those who work on their teams. A culture of organizational learning, a term coined by Peter Senge, has become the standard. With the pace of change in today's world, it is imperative that a company continually grow and evolve to keep pace. And a company cannot grow if it does not grow its members. After all, a company is made up of teams, which are made up of individuals. The concept of organizational learning is founded on this belief. Organizations don't learn. Teams don't learn. Individuals are the ones who learn. They then share that learning with the team, and ultimately the organization, benefiting all and taking the organization to the next level.
If a leader wishes for her organization to grow, it is essential they invest the time and capital required to facilitate learning at the individual level. Show me an organization that invests in its people, and I'll show you an organization that grows and stands the test of time. There are far-reaching benefits of this practice. Many employees seek organizations willing to invest in them, so you become an employer of choice, or one of those organizations winning the "Best Places to Work" list. It shows value and respect for the individual. If an organization fails to invest in its employees, it can expect to see a steady stream of people leaving its doors for those organizations that will. I was one of those employees at one point, in a position, that while the work was fine, made absolutely no investment in my further development. I was stunned that an organization would expect more of me without making the investment required. So, I did what many do. I sought a new job; one that would make the investment in my professional growth. And what happened? I learned, I grew, and my contribution to the organization grew along with it.
At a more granular level, and really to the point of this article, a leader needs to know the capacity of all his team members. He needs to know where they can develop and then working with them to find ways to make that happen. It may not be formal education. It may simply be coaching them as individuals to help them reach stretch goals, or giving them new responsibility to take on. Coaching can take many faces in this context. But, it all comes down to one thing: a personal and professional investment in the people who work on your team and helping them achieve greatness. You will help transport them to a new place, and your team and organization will as well.
Andrea's passion is to see you achieve your dreams. Whether you are a corporate leader seeking leadership development for your employees or an individual seeking life and career changes, she will coach you to success.