Leadership Coaching: A Great Investment for Tech Leaders

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Leadership coaching. Two business men at laptop

A look at the returns on tech leadership coaching and the value it can bring to your business.

I recently finished reading Trillion Dollar Coach, the inspirational story about the late Bill Campell. He was a legendary coach who has helped some of the world’s most successful Tech and Digital leaders to create over a trillion dollars in market value.

Bill’s powerful techniques and insights shaped the choices, growth and style of leaders at Tech giants. These include Apple, Facebook and Google. However, despite his impact and leadership coaching now being used by most FTSE 100 and Fortune 500 businesses, there are still far too few tech businesses investing in coaching their leaders and leadership teams.

Here are some reasons why every tech business, including start-ups and scale-ups, should invest in coaching for their leaders.

Coaching is highly contextualized learning

Most training programs still fail to take account of leaders’ specific problems, challenges and unique context. Organizations are trying to address this by designing action-learning sessions into training programs to deal with learners’ specific challenges. However, this isn’t a substitute for a strong focus on a leader’s unique context that occurs in a coaching partnership. A good external coach will spend considerable time and effort understanding the leader’s goals, team and complex stakeholder network. Based on this deep insight, they will then help the leader consider different options to overcome challenges and maximise their performance. As coaching happens over months, and sometimes even years, a coach can also help the leader explore and adapt to changes in the company and their operating environment.

Coaching involves deep change  

Coaching is highly personalised learning. It takes account of the unique aspirations, values, talents, experiences and background of the person. Unlike standard training programs, coaches can tailor their approach to the learning style, values and objectives of the tech leader. Coaching helps the leader explore and change their mindset, as well as their behaviours, giving rise to deeper and more enduring performance improvement. This makes coaching a lot more impactful than leadership training alone.

Leadership coaching is highly effective in dealing with weaknesses and blind spots

Coaching combined with psychometric profiling and 360-degree feedback is far more effective than training programs. It helps leaders to open up and deal with their vulnerabilities and blind spots. Of course, this relies on the skill and experience of the coach to hold up the mirror and be candid. However, through building trusting relationships over time, a candid and open conversation develops which cannot be replicated in training. This is owing to the perceived (and real) risks associated with talking honestly and openly about one’s weaker areas during a workshop or team meeting.

Coaching plus training is the most powerful  

If you currently use training, but not coaching, to develop your leaders, you should consider adding coaching into the program. In fact, the greatest return on investment comes when you use both together. Studies have found that training alone leads to an average 22.4% increase in productivity. However, training plus coaching results in an impressive 88% improvement (Gerald Olivero, Denise Bane & Richard Kopelman, Public Personnel Management, 1997).

A big criticism of leadership training is that most programs still fail to do a good job in reinforcing and embedding change beyond the program. Leadership coaches can help tech leaders consciously reflect on and apply learning from the training. It also helps them to consider their unique business and career development challenges. This improves learning impact and is more likely to lead to lasting improvements in behaviour and performance.

Leadership coaching can create exceptional value for leaders and their organisations

Because leadership coaching is such a powerful development approach, it typically leads to significant changes in leaders’ mindset, strategic choices, habits and performance. It provides perspective and deep self-awareness to help leaders discover and optimize their strengths and skills… Also, it helps them reduce avoidable missteps and risks. It is admittedly very difficult to calculate the specific financial returns from coaching. However, studies have estimated that coaching generally returns around six times the amount invested, a very healthy return indeed.

It is rare for senior corporate leaders like ex CEO Eric Schmidt of Google to dedicate a book to their coach. Coaches are often hidden players, they don’t expect or seek out recognition or visibility. Trillion Dollar Coach provides a rare glimpse into the world of executive coaching. It highlights that their support, challenge, advice and insight can create personal transformation and extraordinary successes for tech leaders and their businesses.

For more information on our executive and leadership coaching contact us now for an obligation free chat.

About the Author

James Brook
Founder and MD | Leadership Consultant | Organizational Psychologist

James is a leadership consultant, organizational psychologist and executive coach. He has over 25 years’ experience working with leaders, teams and organizations globally to optimize their performance, talent and future success. He specializes in positive leadership, thriving workplaces, collaboration and influencing, organizational change and transformation, accelerating innovation and coaching executives and leaders in innovative sectors including Tech, Digital, E-commerce and Life Sciences.

Before setting up Plexus Leadership, James held leadership roles in HR and Talent Management in the UK and abroad with companies such as NatWest, Yahoo! and Novo Nordisk Pharmaceuticals. After this, he founded and led several talent and leadership consulting and assessment businesses, including Strengthscope®, an online strengths assessment and development business serving a wide range of UK and global clients. James grew this venture into a global market leader before selling the business in 2018.

James has supported, advised and coached leaders and teams globally across diverse industries and geographies. Clients he has worked with include Allen & Overy, Commvault, Equinor, Facebook, GSK, Hilton, John Lewis, Novartis Pharmaceuticals, NHS, Oracle, Sainsbury’s, Swiss Re, Tesco, Takeda Pharmaceuticals, WSP and Yahoo!.

James has a Master’s in Organizational Psychology, an MBA, an Advanced Diploma in Executive Coaching and a Harvard Business qualification in Sustainable Business Strategy. He is a member of the Institute of Directors, the Association of Business Psychologists and a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (FCIPD). He is currently undertaking a PhD in Organizational Psychology examining the start-up experiences of Tech and Digital entrepreneurs.

James is a regular contributor and speaker on leadership, coaching, innovative talent management and the future of work. His most recent book, Optimize Your Strengths, explores how leaders can create thriving workplaces by inspiring and supporting people to optimize their potential and teamwork to deliver breakthrough results.

Contact us now for an obligation free chat.

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