Leadership development is a multi-faceted process, which includes assessment, self-reflection, group learning, personal development, experiential projects, and sustainable practices. Each facet is important and the combination is powerful prescription for the common organizational ailments of poor strategic focus and engagement.
I have seen many physicians and other clinicians transform into leaders through this process. They complete our programs with all better prepared to lead and most becoming solidly good leaders over a reasonable amount of time. Others become great leaders quite quickly.
Certainly, there are inherent characteristics that predispose some people to leadership and there are varying external factors that can influence success. Barring those, however, I have observed that the difference between good and great often depends on coaching.
Executive coaching has grown to an industry onto itself, a far cry from the novel solution often employed as a last-ditch corrective measure for problem cases. Thousands of executives across all industries have benefited from coaching, including healthcare. But, too often, coaching is reserved for the C-suite and not enough attention is paid to the ways that coaching can benefit leaders throughout the organization.
Last year we published the results from our survey of physician leaders and how coaching helped them. The responses were quite diverse, with some areas falling into the traditional executive realm, while other beneficial areas apply to leaders at every level. The top 10 reported areas were:
- Career transition: new organization, new role, or new team
- Leading organizational strategy to execution: help stakeholders navigate change
- Prioritization: achieve work-life balance for self and employees, reduce stress
- Conflict management: repair dysfunctional relationships
- Emotional intelligence: increase sensitivity and build rapport with patients and team members
- Executive presence: inspire and motivate employees and colleagues
- Team development: get comfortable with delegating and create future leaders
- Communication and influence: be more effective, especially with colleagues in different roles
- Meeting management: lead productive, efficient meetings without offending anyone
- New business challenges and opportunities: view different perspectives and explore options
This list is every bit as valid a year later and I would remove nothing. But there is one aspect of leadership that coaching can greatly affect and which is particularly important during uncertain times: readiness for – and adaptability to – change.
Coaching is personal and gives individuals the opportunity to work through their most pressing issues without delay. The person being coached sets his or her own agenda. The ability to home in on specific and immediate concerns usually brings tangible results quickly. This builds confidence in one’s ability to correctly identify, understand, and solve problems. And the more confidence leaders have in their ability to take on challenges, the more effectively they can lead when those challenges come swiftly and frequently.
As you and your organization face the uncertain challenges that lie ahead, consider that coaching may be your fastest path to success by building the confidence needed for good leaders to become great leaders.