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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries
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Corporate coaching

Wherever you are reading this, stop and ask yourself, ‘In a business context, what are the things I value most?’ Notice what pops up. Then ask yourself, ‘How do I ensure that I get what I need and value most’ and, ‘How does what I value get replenished, nurtured, and kept at peak performance?’
Staying resourceful, purposeful, and motivated is key to top performance. All my experience shows the ongoing development of human potential is critical to business success. Ask any successful executive whether it would be helpful to be in a more resourceful state when making key decisions and the answer is always a resounding yes!

Incremental performance
In today’s fast moving and complex world, coaching is increasingly the vehicle by which it becomes possible to get incremental performance out of top people. It’s like servicing a car. Top performance results from properly focused attention and investment.
Executive and performance coaching is no longer just reserved for those who have a seat at the boardroom table or are in the echelons of senior management. More and more companies are turning to coaching to complement the overall development of the individual. After all, individuals create excellence. This approach allows space for conventional technical skill-based training as well as providing a focus on individual issues that enhance performance. And the pay-offs are significant.
Frequently I find myself asked about what corporate coaching is and how it helps organisations. So, let’s get clear about what we’re talking of before looking at why some companies are taking executive coaching even further and adopting it as a corporate management style.

What is corporate coaching?
Corporate coaching is about shifting the workplace horizon from one where people receive direction from others to one where people commit to doing things they care passionately about. The process encourages the development of personal leadership and responsibility throughout the organisation.
Organisations are made up of individuals. Coaching is a collaborative process focusing on the developmental of the individual. It involves a relationship rooted in mutual respect and rapport. It is anchored in constructive, respectful language, and endorses rather than diminishes people’s skills and abilities. It assists individuals and teams to focus on possibilities and eliminate limitations. It helps people to overcome obstacles to their success, including their attitudes, beliefs, and behaviours. Perhaps even more importantly, it provides a model for giving and receiving constructive feedback.

How does coaching as a management style affect corporate culture?
The results are astounding. Often old directive styles of management give way to a more coaching- and commitment-based culture. Hierarchy soon gives way to support, blame gives way to honest evaluation, external motivators are replaced by self-motivation, protective barriers fall as teams build, change is no longer feared but welcomed, and satisfying the boss becomes pleasing the customer. Indeed, coaching as a management style focuses on the future, on what is possible, encouraging multi-level decision-making and evolutionary learning. What emerges is an organisational culture defined by commitment, one in which creativity and innovation are encouraged. Leaders support, inform, and influence, resulting in performance being measured against shared goals, with strong personal commitment by organisational members. In summary, the culture encourages greater flexibility and adaptability to change a key corporate attribute in today’s environment.

Benefits of corporate coaching?
Applicable in all areas of the business, both with individuals and teams, coaching uses common language everyone can relate to. It places emphasis on the unique potential of individuals to maximise their own performance, putting focus on future possibilities. It fosters entrepreneurial thinking, develops flexibility, and gains commitment to individual development. It also greatly enhances communication with internal and external customers, often transforming relationships. All this contributes towards building a common platform for organisational evolution and a strong corporate culture.
And finally, how many annual reports contain statements like ‘our people are our most important asset’? Yet, how many can truly say that they invest in getting the most for, and out of, their people? Team or individual coaching accelerates and enhances peak performance. It raises self-awareness, promotes self-development and self-confidence, increases motivation, leading to improved staff retention. The result? A stronger bottom line.

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