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News: Associations News

Great leaders have a coach

28 March 2018   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Katie Spackman
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Leading an Association today is less about what you know, or who you know. It’s more about how you are. And engaging a coach is an effective way to understand yourself better, connect better with your people and move your Association forward. John Scarrott is the retained coach for the Association of Association Executives members. Here he explains just why coaching is useful for leaders and what makes coaching different to other forms of support.

Coaching makes a modern leader

Why is coaching useful for an Association leader? One explanation is that the meaning of good leadership has changed. What is now required of a leader makes coaching more relevant and necessary for those heading up Associations than ever before.

The three key shifts that have changed what is required of a leader:

·       ‘Leader as expert’ to ‘Leader as enabler’: your team are the experts. It’s your role to support them to expand their expertise, harness it and turn it to theirs and the Associations advantage.

·       ‘Leader as served’ to ‘Leader as servant’: ask not ‘here’s what I want you to do.’ Ask ‘what can I do for you to make this happen?’

·       ‘Leader as one’ to ‘Leader as many’: it’s not up to just one person to be the leader. Your job is to inspire and develop every member of your team to lead.

Making the shift from one place to the other cannot be achieved by what you know or your status. Your role as the leader is to be the catalyst for your team’s progress and development. And coaching can be very useful in supporting you to be that person.

What happens in coaching?

Just what happens when someone is coached? What does a coach do and what difference does it make?

·       A coach works with the person as well as the task: what this means is that they enable the person to understand what might be behind their success or something that stops them from fulfilling their potential. A coach works with their client as a person to uncover and examine their capacity for growth and then create a plan to utilise it.

·       A coach’s goals are to create learning, action and results. The act of being coached is therefore motivating. Coaching leads the person being coached to an understanding of the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of a situation for themselves. They are then able to plan, take action and make themselves accountable for that action. The coach supports this.

·       A coach works mostly in the present and the future. People and associations are all about progress, but they sometimes get stuck in the past or repeat behaviours. Coaching is useful in creating clarity around the present, what the future looks like, options to get there and then choosing the best of these options and turning them into action.

·       A coach uses tools that create space for the person to find their own answers. They do not offer advice. They notice where the attention of the person being coached is going and ask about that. They ask about what that means? This is one of the tools a coach uses to create learning.

·       A coach supports the person to understand what they want from the coaching, why and how they will know they have got it. This makes coaching not only about discovery but also an actionable activity with the coach and client able to check in with each other to discuss progress towards the goal.

For leaders of Associations today, what you know, or who you know is not enough. It’s about how you are. By working with a coach, a leader can better understand themselves, and with that understanding make a real difference to their team, their Association and the community they serve.

Has this article got you thinking about coaching, for you or someone in your team? Email John at to arrange a confidential conversation. He’ll send you a document “Seven questions to get you thinking about what you want from coaching” which will help you clarify what you might want from coaching.

John Scarrott is a Trainer and Coach working with Association professionals to help them achieve their full potential. As a former Membership Director for the Design Business Association where he worked for 7 years, he developed a passion for the sector. He now supports the people within it to achieve their goals. He holds a Certificate in Professional Coaching Skills and trained with Coaching Development Ltd, whose highly regarded coach training courses are accredited by the International Coaching Federation (ICF), the only globally recognised professional coaching body. He is the IDM’s retained Presentation Skills trainer. He writes for the AAE and online on the subject of influential communication and has spoken, run workshops and chaired conferences for the Association since 2014.

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