It’s boom time for the coaching business, as companies increasingly invest in personal approaches to training. Unlike mentoring, coaching focuses on one specific personal or professional goal, rather than overall personal development.
And large employers are looking to develop top leadership teams and embed coaching into learning and development programs. But to learn and practice key coaching techniques and approaches, many executives are heading back to business school.
A number of institutions run executive courses that aim to help participants to develop coaching skills in order to become resilient, confident coaches who can function in diverse situations.
Emory’s Executive Coaching Diploma Program, for example, combines content grounded in academic rigor, with the practice and feedback required to develop great coaching disciplines.
The modules introduce new approaches like brain-based coaching (using neuroscience techniques), tools from psychoanalytic-based coaching and an understanding of how ‘family systems’ can trip up or hinder someone’s ability to reach their potential.
The program also deals with the fundamentals of listening (managing one’s attention, noticing verbal and non-verbal cues, tone and cadence of speech) and speaking (asking powerful questions, using your natural curiosity to follow up, understanding the client’s story as an evolving narrative open to change and development).
“A great coach helps through encouraging and challenging the coachee to explore approaches to difficult situations, uncover possibilities, test assumptions and act on their decisions,” says Nicola Barrett, Chief Corporate Learning Officer at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School in Atlanta.
The business school reaches across the university to the Psychoanalytic Institute and others in Emory Healthcare to bring the latest research-informed teaching and techniques into the program.
“Unlike a mentor, manager or consultant, a great coach doesn’t provide the answer or tell you what to do,” says Barrett. “Instead they challenge you to discover this for yourself and in doing so, to grow and develop your abilities and confidence to take on more complex challenges.”
This emerging class of executive program is seeing higher demand as the coaching business takes off. “We are seeing an increased demand for the broader portfolio of coaching programs we offer, such as team coaching and, for the more experienced coaches, training in coaching supervision to broaden their business offering,” says Karen Foy, a Lecturer in Coaching and Behavioral Change at Henley Business School in the UK.
One new course Henley is bringing to market is the Leader as Coach program, which is aimed at organizations wanting to bring a more developed ‘coaching culture’ into their business.
The program has been accredited by three of the largest professional coaching bodies, so participants receive the opportunity to gain a recognized credential.
“Participants can also expect to gain the confidence to work effectively with executives and leaders,” says Foy. “But more profoundly, participants have talked about the life-changing experience they undergo due to the reflective nature of the program.”
At the heart of the approach at Henley is the personal search to find out who you are as a coach. It offers a psychological base, drawing on the evidence for effective coaching, but underpinning that is a reflective space for understanding who you are and what you can bring to coaching.
The program is part of the Henley Centre for Coaching which means students have access to researchers, thought leaders and a whole range of classes, videos, webinars and resources to broaden their knowledge, experience and networks. From these connections, students have gone on to collaborate in businesses, write books together and even become tutors on the program.
A great coach is always learning
Elsewhere, HEC Paris runs an Executive Coaching School, which houses the Executive Certificate in Global executive Coaching program. On this course, participants gain steadiness, boldness, curiosity, openness and the strong conviction that a great coach is a never ending learner, says Marc Beretta, a Professor at HEC Paris and Academic Director of the coaching school.
“Above all, they take more care of themselves because they know it’s key for them and for the quality of the relationship with others,” he says. Some 1,800 coaches have been certified by the HEC Executive Coaching School since its foundation in 2003. Now, around 200 coaches are certified every year from several programs that includes individual, team and organization coaching programs, in English and in French.
What makes these various programs unique is the overall HEC Paris ecosystem, which includes experiences coaches. “Moreover, this ecosystem includes the diversity and the richness of the course contents shared,” says Beretta. “The demanding process of participants’ selection and certification guarantees high international training standards.”