Coaching for better results

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Coaching for better results: key practices of high performance leaders
Clinton O. Longenecker

Clinton O. Longenecker is the Stranahan Professor of Leadership and Organizational Excellence, Management Department, College of Business Administration, The University of Toledo, Toledo, Ohio, USA.

Abstract Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore the issue of workplace coaching andoffers insight into the various coaching practices that are necessary to produce better employee performance and results. Design/methodology/approach – The paper reports on a survey of 219 experienced managers who were asked to respond to a series of questions on the subject of coaching on a four point strongly agree to strongly disagree scale and references previous research in the discussion.Findings – Key findings include that participant managers consider: coaching to be critical to their success and the success of their employees; coaching requires individualized strategies based on the employee’s ability and motivation; employees do not always receive the coaching they want and need; and managers believe that they have considerable room for development in this critical leadershippractice. Research limitations/implications – The primary limitation of this descriptive study is the use of a targeted convenience sample which might restrict the generalizability of these findings. Practical implications – Implications of this research include: organizations placing greater effort in assisting managers to develop their coaching talents; managers tailor-making coaching strategies forindividual employees; and creating a better understanding of the factors that drive employee performance and what managers can and should do to impact these factors. Originality/value – This paper moves away from the concept of ‘‘generic’’ coaching and makes a very strong case for ‘‘individualized approaches’’ to employee coaching and for managers to give coaching greater time and priority on a dailybasis as leaders. Keywords Coaching, Leaders, Leadership development, Performance levels Paper type Research paper

Lots of businesses and leaders talk about the importance of coaching but in the end the real question is do they do it, do they do it well, do they regularly and do they do it based on the needs of different employees? . . . It isn’t just about providing performance feedback, itis about helping and supporting employees reach their full potential (Senior Manager).

For the past decade we have been studying the practices of high performance business leaders around the world and have found that for a manager to produce sustainable long-term results, they must demonstrate real skill at coaching the people who report to them. We have learned that successful leaders useongoing coaching and performance feedback as a tool to elevate the performance of their people (Longenecker and Simonetti, 2001). In fact, we have gone so far as to develop an irrefutable performance principle on the issue of coaching:
Employees cannot improve their performance if they don’t know there is a need to do so, if they don’t know what to change, if they don’t know how to change or if theylack the proper support and reinforcement for effective performance.

The implications of this statement make a very strong case for leadership training and development in this area and should encourage managers to take proactive steps to





VOL. 42 NO. 1 2010, pp. 32-40, Q Emerald Group Publishing Limited, ISSN 0019-7858


develop this critical leadership skill. At the same time, we have found that employees, regardless of position or level in an organization, need effective coaching following any training and development experience if the individual is going to implement and perfect the desired skills and their organizations are going to get a return on their investment (Longenecker and...
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