Five practical steps for Consultants, Coaches and anyone wanting to become a Leadership Coach.
One thing is certain: the world needs more leader at every level. One of the biggest things now preventing businesses from growth is the strength of their leadership pipeline.
Question is, do you want to become a highly sought after Leadership Coach?
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The role of a Leadership Coach
You may already be in the Consulting or Coaching space: as a Career Coach, Change Management Coach, Executive Coach…….or you’re looking to move from a corporate role and set up your Leadership Coaching Practice. Either way, we’ll share 5 practical steps to set-up you up for success.
Before we jump in, let’s clarify the role of a Leadership Coach. Typically, it will involve the following:
- Working with a management team: chances are you’ll be working with a senior team on their business goals, priorities and people agenda. You may be facilitating meetings and workshops on ‘how’ they need to work better, smarter and more effectively to achieve their collective goals
- Culture change: you may also be working with them to identify the culture they need to create to support their strategy or plans. Senior teams are often challenged by not enough people taking accountability, using their judgement, implementing local change projects, or delivering exceptional service for customers. The lack of a ‘proactive culture’ may mean the senior team get bogged-down with too many operational issues – leaving them operating a level below where they need to be.
- Skills development: You may well be running skills development workshops. How to coach, how to give evidence-based feedback, how to build strong teams, how to handle conflict, how to lead people through change. The more you can align these skills development workshops with their business cycle and business priorities, the more effective you will be
- One-to-one coaching: you’ll be working with each member of a management team and helping them think through how they can be more effective in the following ways. First, their contribution to the leadership team. Second, the way they lead and manage their own functional team. Third, how they develop their personal brand and leadership repertoire.
- Growing leaders at the next level: it’s not unusual for a Leadership Coach to be operating at various levels of a business and ensuring skills, capabilities and culture change is happening at every level of the organisation. A senior team can only become high performing when everyone play to win vs play not to lose.
Let’s now explore the 5 practical steps to becoming a credible Leadership Coach:
A Leadership Coach gets clients results by deeply understanding their business. Getting people to talk about the real issues, so the fog lifts and they can clearly see the way forward
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Build a deep expertise in at least one topic
- Your journey starts by striving to become a thought leader in one topic, subject or area. Something you have a passion for and have a unique perspective. This edge can be through real world experience, or through reading and research you may have done
- Create an article, blogs or video content to share your point of view. Bring it to life with how this expertise can solve a real world problem your potential clients are facing
- Create a possess or road-map of how you will take your clients through your methodology. What’s the end-to-end journey? What do they need to do at each step? How will you measure if you’re moving closer to your goals? What’s your role and what’s your client’s role?
- The point of becoming a thought leader is your ideas can not be academic or based on models or theory. You need to find a way your big ideas can be operationalised.
Learn the skills of facilitation and ‘pull’ style coaching
- Facilitation and teaching are a world apart. See your role as being a Facilitator vs a Trainer. Long after you have left the room, you still want your clients owning the process or framework you have taken them through. The more they own it, the greater the chances of successful implementation.
- Facilitation is the skill of asking great questions. Creating activities which allow your clients to arrive at their own solutions.
- Above all, facilitation is about working in your clients reality. You help them solve real world problems, challenges and issues by helping them work with your process or tools. So whilst the process and methodology might be ‘generic’, you are helping a management team personalise the process to their challenges. It’s this that will set you apart from other Consultants trying to ‘sell’ or impose their solution on clients.
- Both facilitation and coaching works best when it is ‘pull’ vs ‘push’. Pull is where you guide your clients. Push is where you tell your clients. Pull is a process of discovery. Push feels like a hard sell.
Promote and market this expertise
- To ensure you’re not a best kept secret, create ways to get in front of potential clients. Run a free webinar, a free breakfast seminar, a free in-house taster session. Your objective is two-fold: for potential clients to get to know you and for them to see you have a unique offer which will help them solve a real-world problem
- Create an irresistible offer, in return for video testimonials or referrals. By irresistible, think short-term and heavily discounted (but not free). The client needs to have some skin in the game. You need to agree your terms before delivering any work. In other words, if the heavily discounted offer delivers the results we have agreed, you will sign up to rolling this out to a wider population at this fee. Or you agree to providing both written and video testimonials on the value you gained from working with me. You may also ask if they would refer you on to their suppliers, partners or network.
Sometimes, leadership teams are so close to a problem, they can’t see the bigger picture. This is the value of working with a Leadership Coach
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Build a network of experts
- Create a network of other Coaches/Consultants who are open to working with you. Ideally people you know and trust or at the very least come highly recommended. This means you don’t come across as a ‘one wo/man band’. Otherwise you risk getting smaller projects the client thinks you can handle. Presenting a team, gives you more leverage and the potential to secure higher-value projects
- It also means, you can bring the right Consultant in to operate at different levels of the client’s business. Working with Team Leaders is very different from working with senior teams. So being able to ‘mix and match’ the team gives you more credibility.
- By working with other Coaches/Consultants you also get to broaden your skill set and expertise.
Develop the skills of Consultative Selling
- Work winning, selling work, handling objections….these are vital life skills for any Coach/Consultant. It’s an area many struggle with. But it should be well within your grasp if you adopt a few simple principles.
- First, focus on your client. Their challenges, their issues and pain-points. Discover where they’re stuck and what help and guidance they’re looking for.
- Find out why they’ve not been able to solve the problem so far. What’s the root-cause of the issue? These first two steps are all about your client and not you. Only when you feel you totally understand your client’s challenges and what they need, should you be in a position to explore solutions.
- Again, ask your client. If you could provide them with any help, coaching, support, what would that look like from their point of view. Equally, what don’t they want?
- Next, share your process, ideas and recommendations. Co-develop them with your clients. What do they like, what don’t they like? Make real-time adjustments, so the client can see they’re getting something personalised to them.
- Finally, discuss budgets. If you can help them achieve the outcomes you have discussed, what is iot worth to the client? Do they have a budget in mind? Is there one area or team you can start-off with to demonstrate proof of concept? The point is, never go away to write a proposal. Your proposal should be written confirmation of what you have verbally agreed with your client. You need to ask the question before you leave the call or the meeting: are we in agreement that I will now be working with you to deliver A, B and C and we will start on date…..?
To discuss any of this further, drop me a note: firstname.lastname@example.org.