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The case for coaching in a business environment

Sue Welman
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The news of Lindiwe Mazibuko's departure from the DA, and the subsequent press storm, quickly became a PR nightmare for DA leader Helen Zille.

The news of Lindiwe Mazibuko's departure from the DA, and the subsequent press storm, quickly became a PR nightmare for DA leader Helen Zille. Then again, it's not as if the newspapers have been any kinder to her political counterparts. Each of these leaders would've benefited from the input of a business coach. This might seem a contrary statement: after all, coaching is usually seen as a tool for people hoping to improve their performance, something that's most suited to junior or mid-level employees. In reality, those at the top of their game are just as likely to benefit.

Think of it this way: even Usain Bolt, known as the fastest person ever, is constantly on the lookout for ways to shave minutes off his time. In the same way, even those people who've reached their professional pinnacle may find that they have areas that can be improved upon. Perhaps they've proved themselves as effective leaders, capable of inspiring staff and consequently reaping the rewards of increased productivity and profitability – but their softer approach leaves board members not feeling confident. Or maybe they're grappling with the challenges of a restructure which has affected staff morale to the point where the company is losing valued members of staff. In another scenario, perhaps their vision for the company is spot on, but they're unable to communicate it effectively to staff.

In each of these instances, coaching can help the executive clarify how to address the challenge they're faced with. One of the ways this is done is by asking incisive questions that enable the executive to approach problems from a fresh viewpoint. A mind shift is enabled, making it possible to consider issues from a new perspective. This is important because each of us has an entrenched approach, shaped and reinforced by our experiences and background, which informs our way of doing things. Considering issues from a new angle means we're able to be more effective and achieve better results. Or be able to adapt according to the needs of each and every situation we're faced with – 'respond to' vs 'react to'.

Coaching isn't a magic panacea that will immediately make you better in every area of your job. It will, however, equip you to work through the blind spots that hinder your effectiveness. The ultimate result? An improved ability to communicate, better conflict resolution skills, more flexibility – and therefore greater effectiveness – when it comes to decision-making and increased influence and impact.


Sue Welman is the director of True North Coaching & Consulting. Her specialities include executive coaching, sales coaching, group coaching, business coaching, facilitation and leadership development. Sue has a BA (honours) from the University of Port Elizabeth and is a Certified Information Systems Auditor.

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