Coaching for High Performance

When a top sportsperson ‘splits’ from their coach, it often hits headlines and raises questions such as ‘how will they continue to win without a coach?’  Yet senior leaders in both public and private sector rarely get much coaching, and those that do rarely get much more than an initial ‘get started’ coaching programme for their first few months.

Staying at peak performance is tough, coaching people for continued high performance makes demands on both the coach and the coachee.  What can you do to help such coaching be most effective?

  1. Set short and long term coaching goals

What does the coachee want to achieve through coaching?  Vague ideas about ‘getting better at my job’ aren’t a lot of help.  Developing some valuable long term goals may itself be a coaching outcome for the first couple of sessions.

  1. Think about what high performance is, in this situation and context

We blithely talk about high performance as if it were a well understood concept that we can immediately apply.  In practice, it’s one of those terms that we tend to use a lot in organisations, without being at all clear what we mean.

When senior leaders say they want to drive a high performance culture they often look at me to tell them what that is.   In reality of course, high performance is very context specific once basic competence is completed, and so I spend a lot of my time with Senior Leaders exploring what high performance means for them and their teams.  Such work often involves a lot of honest reflection on current performance, which can be a challenge for some.

  1. Establish high performance as a commitment to improve

However high performing you or your team are, the world moves fast, and resting on your laurels is not an option.  True high performance cultures and individuals are committed to improving how they work and what they deliver.  That does not mean following the specifics of a ‘continuous improvement programme’, it means developing a growth mindset, taking the time to reflect and learn, as well as building new skills.  A high performance coach will help individuals and teams think through these challenges and navigate a long term path to staying at the top of the game for as long as needed.