Last week, we looked at some of the issues involved in creating emotionally effective leaders and the challenges of using workshops to support those leaders’ development (You can see that post here). In this installment, we’ll look at other common methods of leadership development and examine why coaching is the best way to develop emotionally effective leaders.
There is, of course, a place for workshops and courses, but we must be realistic about how effective they are. What’s needed are development processes that are more grounded in the realities of the leaders’ situations and that allow them to implement and practice their new skills.
This is not news by any means, and it’s one of the reasons why stretch assignments (temporarily taking on projects or positions as a way of developing new leadership skills and awareness) are considered one of the most effective leadership development processes. Putting a leader in a real situation with all the attendant stressors, personalities, conflicts, and pressures can allow them to truly begin to develop their leadership capabilities.
Although many consider stretch assignments to be the gold standard of development opportunities, confounding factors that influence the emotional impact of stretch assignments on leaders come into play here.
Some leaders may see it as “only” a stretch assignment, while others may go the opposite direction and apply additional pressure to themselves in hopes of making a good impression. That said, many positives can come out of stretch assignments, but without developmental support from a coach or mentor, a leader may not fully realize the real learning such stretch assignments offer.
Additionally, many have still not gotten their minds around how to effectively and equitably use stretch assignments in their organizations. Creating effective stretch assignment programs can be challenging and is often expensive, and without the right developmental support, such assignments can become discouraging experiences for the leaders undergoing the stretch and disengaging to other leaders who struggle to figure out the rationale behind the allocation of stretch assignments.
If your clients are looking at stretch assignments as ways to develop their leaders, it’s worth discussing with them some of the considerations and complexities associated with these processes. It’s also an opportunity to introduce coaching as an addition to, or even an alternative, to stretch assignments.
Coaching can be an effective alternative to stretch assignments because they provide leaders with the developmental support they need and enables them to try and apply new awareness and approaches to the jobs they already have. It’s more effective than in-person courses; it’s simpler than providing only stretch assignments. But there are even more reasons why coaching works as we will explore next week
Next Week: Why coaching Works