I have been engaging with client organisations for their coaching needs for well over 15 years and I must say that a lot has changed in the manner in which coaches and coaching services are used and all for the better.
There was a time well over a decade ago when the coach was a trust worthy friend or professionally known to the CEO or a Board member and was invited by them to coach someone within the Organisation. Coaching at that time was a very discreet thing and even HR did not get included except for operational matters. Coaches were also not really called upon to share much by way of progress or status because they were known and respected. To that extent there was a certain level of opaqueness about what coaches did and how they went about their work. A lot was shrouded under confidentiality.
Much has changed since. Many HR leaders and Talent Heads are coaches themselves and / or are very familiar with how things work. They have also managed to take the burden away from CEOs and boards to find someone to coach.
The body of published literature about the practical aspects of coaching has also increased significantly.
Coaching is no longer considered a broad-spectrum antibiotic for all ills. It is now seen as an integral part of leader development. The varied contexts in which it is applied and the accompanying nuances are also very well understood by HR and Talent Heads. Most importantly, it is clear that coaching is a leader development intervention and not therapy and to that extent there is need for transparency, accountability and sustainability.
HR and Talent leaders who work in organisations where the centrality of the function is high are deeply involved in the talent management processes. They have a sound understanding of each senior leader and her or his development needs and plans for their career. They are also earning the trust of senior leaders enough to have candid and supportive conversations about their aspirations and development opportunities. To that extent the quality of initial briefing conversations that I have with these HR and Talent leaders are extremely deep, thorough and well thought through.
They also play a very useful role in helping find the right coach and then being available to the sponsors and the coach to ensure that the engagement is well set up and well supported for success. As a coach and coaching services provider, I am convinced that without internal support from HR and Talent leaders, coaching will remain shaky and with their full involvement, coaching can deliver great results.
I can also see that Boards and CEOs are beginning to recognize that the journey of leader development is unique, personal and requires them to be involved and invested, one person at a time and there is no magic wand which when waved will deliver a whole lot of leaders for the future.
Obviously, not all organisations and all functionaries may be there yet but I can see a significant shift and that is extremely exciting. Once we have a critical mass of role models doing the right things, the change will be rapid.