Tom Leach: The Benefits of Executive Coaching
Tom Leach Coaching is a small business providing executive coaching and mentoring in the public and voluntary sector and in higher education. Set up in 2013, the business has grown beyond its early roots in leadership development in the health sector. Conceived as a small, fast-moving and flexible enterprise Tom Leach Coaching draws in other […]
is a small business providing executive coaching and mentoring in the public and voluntary sector and in higher education. Set up in 2013, the business has grown beyond its early roots in leadership development in the health sector. Conceived as a small, fast-moving and flexible enterprise Tom Leach Coaching draws in other coaching professionals with a range of expertise to support team and leadership development.
The Founder and sole Director of the business, Tom Leach, is a qualified coach with higher degrees in management and education. He has been a Lecturer and Researcher in higher education in Scotland, an Associate Lecturer for the Open University Business School, Head of a team of internal consultants in the health sector, and National Project Manager for the NHS in England. Below, he speaks to Finance Monthly about the common problems that he helps businesses and leaders with and the benefits of having a business coach.
What common problems do businesses and Executives fall into that coaching helps to address?
The world is volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. Politically public services are under huge pressures to respond to overwhelming expectations within the tightest constraints of financial and economic resources imposed by austerity. Technological and scientific improvements unimagined by earlier generations have created magnificent opportunities, but have stoked up huge public expectations. Climate and environmental change offer vivid examples of the prevailing uncertainties in all walks of life.
In the last 24 months, Tom Leach Coaching has worked with public sector leaders striving to find more effective ways of working across organisational boundaries, breaking down the old silos of health and social care, building multi-disciplinary teams, coping with organisational mergers, and stabilising services under constant pressures of change.
For most of our clients, critical personal and career questions surfaced as they struggled with their organisational and leadership challenges. For the Chair of a commissioning group, a priority was to identify their particular role on the Board, to manage her own finite energies, reduce her unrealistic expectations of herself, and concentrate her attention on areas of the group business which would produce the most significant returns.
A Finance Director starting in a new role on the board of another health organisation was coached over the period of transition, helping him to achieve a better level of performance in a shorter period.
Executive coaching often provides the most effective, cost efficient and most accurately focussed means of achieving such leadership development.
What difference can having an executive coach, like Tom Leach Coaching, have on an individual’s strategy and career path?
Leaders in the private and public sectors typically face huge business pressures, which in part arise from the volatility and uncertainties of the environment in which they work, as described earlier. As we have seen, however, personal management and career issues often become entangled in day-to-day decision-making at an emotional level, increasing personal stress and reducing resilience. Without exception and since Tom Leach Coaching’s creation, our clients value highly the time that executive coaching allows them to think through issues in a structured way and view them from a range of different perspectives. Having the time to think makes all the difference. Frequently, it results in a complete change of approach.
When should a company or their Executive consider speaking with and hiring their own business coach?
Executive coaching can make a significant difference to leadership performance where new appointments are being made. Ideally, coaching should be considered in the period before a transition and during the critical first weeks of ‘on-boarding’ and integration of a new post holder. Large corporations replace 12% of their executives annually. That means a lot of transitions are taking place. Research shows that as many as 40% of new leaders fail (fired or resign) or underperform during this period of transition.
Most executives and organisations do not plan enough for their transitions. Executive coaching can help.
What differentiates a good executive coach from an excellent one?
Differentiating a good from an excellent executive coach may be less difficult than separating the good from the rest. Numbers of coaches have grown rapidly in recent years and there has been a confusing proliferation of qualifications and titles. Professional regulation is progressing, but the field is wide open and careful scrutiny is essential. Professional recognition is a starting point. Relevance and length of experience are likely to be significant but not sufficient guides. A recent survey reveals that most executives follow the recommendations of colleagues when making their choice of coach.
Above all, it is essential to make use of a ‘chemistry session’ to test the experience and promises of a potential executive coach. Good coaches usually make these available free-of-charge.