The Leadership Coaching Process and Framework – A Guide

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June 10, 2022
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Leadership coaching, as the name suggests, is focused on helping top leaders/executives become even better versions of themselves – by enhancing their leadership skills (communication, ideation, strategizing, handling delicate business situations, etc.), helping them navigate challenges, tapping into unknown but promising opportunities, gaining deeper insight into themselves and their team members, and getting a fresher perspective of their organization’s true goals – all to facilitate a successful outcome for their professional graph as well as deliver transformational results to the organization’s growth and success. 

Do top rung corporate leaders need coaching? How does it benefit them? 

You might wonder why would some of the best corporate leaders (with tons of experience, excellent knowledge, a high-flying career) even need any type of coaching? Aren’t they already at the top of the corporate pyramid? After all, other leaders from the industry listen to them give advice! 

Although it is true that the top rung management or the movers and shakers in the business world are outstanding individuals with a terrific career and a well-established leadership record, it is a fact that even the best sometimes struggle with newer challenges, adapting to time-related changes in the workings of the industry, navigating through organisational challenges, etc., that can affect their own confidence as well as the performance of the company in the long run. 

With the rules of business engagement changing so quickly, even the CEOs and MDs need a reliable, rational, non-biased, knowledgeable voice that can guide them through challenges in an objective and honest manner. A leadership coach is that trusted partner to the top leaders who will listen to their thoughts and concerns that they are otherwise not able to share either with their subordinates nor with the company board members. 

Once a solid, mutually trustworthy relationship is established between a leadership coach and the coachee, the leadership coach can become the person who holds up a mirror to the leader, inspires them during business uncertainties, helps them overcome decision-making ambiguities and urges them to adopt a more open, thorough process to find solutions to complex issues. 

Leadership coaching impacts the leader in a twofold manner – one, it helps them understand their true capacities and then upgrade/enhance their own leadership qualities and secondly, via the coaching process, help the organization achieve their desired business results. 

The need for a leadership coaching framework

Even with superior technical expertise and ample resources at hand, leaders still do struggle to deliver those outcomes in order to attain the desired company goals. In these cases, a leadership coach can be a great support by helping chart out a personalized coaching program that can enable the client to turn around a difficult situation and become an even better leader. 

In order to deliver a well-functioning, individualized coaching program, the leadership coach needs to have a systematic, well thought out and planned coaching process – which is termed as a leadership coaching framework – that will enable them to give their best efforts to the entire coaching program and help the client achieve self as well as organizational goals. Read on to find out what a leadership coaching framework is and how it works.

  • A contract or an agreement 

The first step in a leadership coaching framework is the contract that is entered into between the concerned parties – the leadership coach, the leader and/or the organization. The contract includes details about the commitment that each party makes to the coaching process, the specifics of what each party will do and not do, particulars that will be given as well as withheld, etc. 

Confidentiality is the basis of the entire coaching process; it not only ensures a safe and secure environment for the client to divulge their personal details and thoughts, it is also responsible for building trust between the coach and the coachee. A leadership coach must ensure that the rules of confidentiality are adhered to strictly by them during the coaching process. 

For the leadership coach, the contract helps them get assurances from the coachee of being prepared for each coaching session, to adapt to newer ideas and be open to real change, to take part in the journey of self-awareness, be agreeable to accept frank and honest assessment of their abilities from the coach, and be a willing participant in the coaching process.

An agreement also refers to the scope, method and outcome of the coaching process. This clarity of what to expect is necessary for all parties as it provides precise details about what aspects will be covered under the coaching program and also helps avoid any misunderstandings in the future. 

The contract will also cover the cost of the coaching program with all the expenses (fee of the coach, travel costs, etc.) agreed upon mutually by the concerned parties. 

  • Assessment 

The next step in the leadership coaching framework is the all-round assessment by the leadership coach of their client. 360° Feedback, Feedforward, and Leadership Growth Review are some of the tools and techniques that a leadership coach uses to understand their client. 

These tools help the coach evaluate the personality, behaviour and attitude patterns of the client, while the inputs from board members or associates help to gauge the leader’s conduct during multiple scenarios. All round feedback gathered during one-on-one meetings is essential for the coach to understanding the client’s real strengths, challenges, newer opportunities and potential threats to their professional success. Employing coaching tools to evaluate the client’s professional space help the coach comprehend the client’s true job – the tasks they do, value addition services they provide, minute observations of thoughts & behaviours during meetings with other board members or stakeholders and employee interactions give a fair assessment of the client’s approach towards their job, loss analysis and even an in-depth study of the current financial situation of the company to find out the real cause of the losses, and more.

All these tools help the leadership coach prepare detailed feedback on the client’s (and by extension the organization’s) current situation. Accurate feedback is essential as that is the basis on which the leadership coach and the client can formulate an actionable plan to reverse the unfavourable situation to attain the desired outcomes. 

  • The way forward – devising an achievable game plan

Once the assessment and feedback are done, the next obvious step in the leadership coaching framework is to chart out a feasible action plan that will bridge the gap between reality and aspiration. As a leadership coach, helping the client set periodic, realistically achievable goals, instead of some vague declarations, is important as the final success (or not) of the coaching program will depend on them. 

SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time bounded) goal setting not only brings an organized approach as well as a quantifiable factor to the process but also helps focus on clear targets that give a fair estimation of the attainability of those objectives.

After goal setting, the coach and client need to agree upon the actual subject matter (the feedback analysis will highlight topics that are most relevant), a mutually suitable coaching format (online/offline or hybrid), the duration of each session, etc. 

  • Application of the actual coaching process 

The groundwork has been done and now the leadership coaching framework moves into the core of coaching or the practical application during sessions.  

The leadership coach will start off each session with an in-depth conversation with the client to set specific goals that they hope to accomplish during the session. Start by asking the client simple but non-directive questions, ‘what do you hope to gain from this particular session?, ‘how do you think the achieved goals will benefit your professional graph?’, ‘will these insights make a difference in your interactions with your team members’, ‘how do you think the set targets align with your company’s business vision?’  

A good coach will listen attentively, without interruption, without judgement and without imposing their views about the situation. The intent is to ask questions that will guide the client to understand their present realities, identify their own challenges, think outside their comfort zone and find solutions themselves to attain their goals. 

The leadership coach should not give readymade answers but guide the leader to reflect, express and discover their own path. The real art of coaching lies in maintaining the fine balance between guidance and self-discovery. The leadership coach can definitely help the leader by sharing various leadership and man management principles but leave the leader to derive the substance of those principles themselves. 

A healthy give and take of questions and answers between the coach and client is the very foundation of the coaching program that can form a trusting collaboration resulting in fresh ideas, strategies and finally transformational outcomes for the client and their organization. 

  • Review of the coaching process 

The final step in the leadership coaching framework is the appraisal of the coaching program. After all, regular monitoring and review of the process is the way to find out whether the leadership coaching program is working, the areas that need work and whether the client is getting the value additions they hoped for at the start of the process. 

A leadership coach needs to assess the coaching on various parameters – knowledge gained, client satisfaction, actions taken and executed, impact of the coaching program (improved sales figures, employee retention, etc.) and finally the ROI earned. The reviews can be by session, midterm or at the end of the coaching engagement.  

Benefits of leadership coaching framework

Leadership coaching is not confined to just one-on-one sessions but is a detailed, systematic and a result-oriented process that can have a visible impact on the professional success of the leader as well as their organization. It can result in enhancing management & leadership qualities of the client, develop innovation and performance culture in an organization and result in achieving positive outcomes (financial and performance) for both client and company. 

For this impact to be visible it is necessary that leadership coaches have an effective leadership coaching framework in place that can prove beneficial in 

  • Helping them identify the necessary tools and techniques that can prove most valuable during the coaching engagements 
  • Implementing a practical and feasible coaching process 
  • Providing a defined & solution-oriented service to the client 

FAQs 

1. What is a framework in coaching?

A coaching framework is a systematic structure or direction that acts as guide for the coach to navigate effectively from point A to point B in the coaching process. A coaching framework is the mainstay of coaching that ensures an effective, well defined, solution-oriented coaching program that can finally deliver transformational results for the client.  

2. How do you write a leadership coaching framework?

An effective coaching framework is one that takes the client from where they are to where they want to be. A successful coaching framework includes: 

  • Determining the desired outcomes/goals 
  • Organizing main topics to achieve the desired outcomes 
  • Expanding the framework to include tools & techniques, action strategies and resources that will improve the client’s knowledge and guide them in the right direction 
  • Including applicable material such as exercises, templates, checklists, etc., that can be used by the client to get their results
  • Including testimonials, success stories, feedback and personal examples so that the client knows that the coaching process works from real time examples 
  • Providing value additions to your coaching program via articles, blogs, vlogs, webinars, podcasts etc. that will deliver more to the client than what they were expecting out of the coaching 

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