Assisting with a multitude of developmental aspects both professionally and personally, leadership coaching is designed to encourage employees to transform themselves into being the best they can possibly be. It also assists management teams and higher level executives in seeing which aspects of the business an employee really excels in and which blind spots could be improved upon. A recent study by FMI about the impact of leadership coaching in the built environment revealed some interesting findings for the construction sector.
Flexible in its approach to business management, coaching is designed to be specifically tailored to the needs to the individual receiving the coaching. Construction firms often create their business model around the ideology of the economy being able to grow and shrink at the drop of a proverbial hat. Leadership coaching is often required in order to sustain this adaptive approach to business, as it allows leaders to be best prepared for a range of challenges the future may hold.
The sector has always been volatile, with construction leaders regularly handling levels of complexity and ambiguity that would be considered extreme by the measure of many other industries. This rapid change of pace within the industry has rendered more traditional leadership techniques old-fashioned at best, requiring leaders and executives to better equip themselves to deal with an ever-changing global landscape. Strategic thinking is the name of the new game, aiming to minimise ineffective or knee-jerk responses to the business environment which can cripple an organisation with remarkable rapidity.
Introducing coaching into the equation provides numerous benefits to the industry’s leadership by helping to manage transitions and develop essential skills, as well as turning those skills into positive habits for lasting change. Unlike conventional training, a coaching-led approach to development allows for maximum flexibility and agility while still providing the essential, tailored individual support that leaders need.
FMI’s study notes four particular areas where access to coaching can provide critical support to leaders within the construction sector.
A Sounding Board
Executives often feel isolated at the top of their organisations, so access to a coach provides a much-needed “thought partner” who can be reliably confided in, especially as entering senior positions dramatically shifts the working dynamic with former organisational peers.
The main workforce is often also critical of the leadership team, both at an individual and collective level, which can result in feelings of isolation and self-doubt, affecting wellbeing and ultimately business performance. Coaches again can step in here to act as valuable neutral parties so that leaders can still give voice to sensitive or complex issues which others below them in the organisation may struggle to empathise with.
This leads to improved self-awareness in executives, with many saying that working with a coach as an external advisor has helped them to better understand and process feedback they receive as leaders, in turn producing healthier and more effective leadership approaches and an improvement in their organisations.
More Effective Leadership Transitions
The idea of “loneliness at the top” only becomes more notable when leaders transition into new roles as part of succession planning. Ambiguous expectations and complexities in taking over leadership from another introduce a “perfect storm” of isolation and self-doubt for many, especially when combined with a significant shift in previous internal relationships.
Having a coach on hand to help shift thinking and adapt to a new role proves invaluable, with 91% of FMI’s study participants saying that engagement with a coach made them feel increased readiness for a new role. This development of new active skills and assistance in navigating changing relationship dynamics leads to more capable, confident, self-aware and stable leadership teams.
Boosting Role Engagement
Employee engagement is a hot topic at the moment given its power in so many aspects of the business world. Interestingly leaders tend not to seek out coaching specifically for the purpose of improving engagement, but nearly 88% of FMI’s surveyed participants said that access to coaching improved their engagement with their roles.
Boosting job satisfaction and confidence, as well as helping to reduce the learning curve for new roles and improving relationships in the workplace all contribute to positive engagement. This gives increased likelihood of retention, effectively boosting leadership development ROI in the long term, and almost always produces performance boosts which enhance overall business profitability; a powerful combination.
Driving Commitment & ROI
As well as boosting “secondary” ROI drivers such as engagement and retention, using coaching as a way to develop specific leadership competencies to drive success will almost inevitably lead to both individual and organisational growth. In the highly volatile E&C environment, covering required skillsets can be time consuming and expensive, but coaching offers a highly engaging way to empower leaders to self-develop while at the same time directly boosting their in-role efficacy.
“Multiple research approaches confirm the idea that coaching offers an ROI that verges on the extraordinary,” says Nick Goldberg, founder and CEO at leadership development solution Ezra Coaching. “Investing in leadership throughout an organisation produces enormous benefits, not least of which is maximising engagement and retention potential for employees. By working to make coaching more accessible to all leaders, a business is investing not just in its workforce and culture but in its whole growth trajectory.”
While a great deal of focus is often placed on the benefits of coaching for soft skill development, in fact many leaders decided that access to a coach also improved the strategy, culture and even financial health of their organisations. In a challenging sector where the right leaders are a very scarce commodity, investing in people with coaching not only ticks valuable HR boxes but will significantly elevate the potential of the business in its entirety.