Coach as a Sounding Board for the Sponsor and Senior Management
Coaching engagements involve periodic meetings with the sponsor, providing updates, and taking the sponsor’s perspectives on the progress of the Coachee. At various stages there are three way meetings, along with the Coachee, for reviews and approvals.
In one of my coaching engagements I was invited to meet the senior management along with the sponsor. They appreciated my contribution in shaping the Coachee and said, “Our Business is growing faster than we expected, we are adding new products and would require to expand to new geographies. We have recruited very experienced and senior leaders to lead the new areas. They bring different cultures and expectations. It will be a new challenge for your Coachee to deal with these changes. We are betting on him to lead this Business. What are your views?
Such meetings are now common across different clients and in another instance of such a meeting the senior leaders shared
“Your Coachee is making great progress and he is leading from the front. We are exploring the possibility of getting a global leader to supervise him for now. We think he can learn a lot from working with this leader. He can then grow into this role two years from now. Do you think this is good and how will your Coachee respond to this change?”
And in yet another instance
“Our Business circumstances have forced us to fill the role your Coachee was supposed to grow into. Your Coachee is an asset to this company. He has been excellent in his area of work but has limited interest and understanding of other businesses and functions in our company. He has to be ready to lead any area and that is the only way he may grow.”
In all these conversations the senior management is looking to the Coach to share his views on how the Coachee is responding to the coaching process and the relevance and readiness of the Coachee to meet the organizational needs in the context of the changed business circumstances.
Coaching is grooming a Business Leader in the context of the strategic needs of the organization. Success of the Coachee is at the heart of the coaching process. Yet, this has to be in the context of the organizational needs. It is therefore a fine balance between helping the organization manage their business risk and ensuring that the Coachee’s progress is aligned with the changing business needs.
The senior management are not looking to the Coach to help them make decisions, but are looking to the Coach to guide them on their role in helping the Coachee better manage these changed circumstances.
As a Coach one has to go back and assess if the Coachee has to make changes to the strategies and action plans to align the improvements he is working on with the business changes. The Coach would also need to ensure how the Coachee is coping with these changed circumstances and if he would need any support emotionally to cope with these changes.
The coaching process requires regular interactions with the Business leadership, specifically where there are rapid changes to their business environment. Understanding the management perception of business risk would help in continuously aligning the coaching engagement to business direction as well as having a better understanding of the environment and challenges