Coaching Leaders at Universities Across the North and Beyond

Having earned a reputation for excellence in the delivery of leadership coaching and coaching leaders to coach successive leaders at a leading university in the Yorkshire region, Alternative Partnership has successfully secured two similar contracts elsewhere. Alternative Partnership is soon to deliver leadership coaching to two further universities in the North of England. Our effectiveness in transforming the hierarchical perspectives of leaders and potential leaders is a string to the Alternative Partnership bow that is paying dividends. While we await news of another contract for the delivery of train-the-coach training that is pending approval at another leading university in the Yorkshire region, we believe it is time for celebration and reflection. Thus, we reflect that a glimpse into the nature of coaching, as delivered by Alternative Partnership training consultants, would be a useful and illustrative demonstration of our capacities for our readers.

The decision to take on a management coach is by its very nature a statement that there is a need for change in the way things are done. Within such a process, the first step consists in recognising that things could be done in different ways to help achieve professional and personal goals. These first steps are also important as they inform how the professional being coached comes to the table of learning: because they have to or because they want to. Naturally, this affects the coaching process and its subsequent success or failure.

It is no disgrace to accept that help is needed in our work based role. Indeed, most authorities would say that it is a strength and one that shows maturity. One of the coaching methods employed by our training consultants is the 360 Degree Review process. The purpose behind having a 360 Degree Review is to establish objectively the management skills gap. Naturally this can be done subjectively from the perspective of the individual being coached, but, to paraphrase Robert Burns, ‘we never see ourselves as others see us’, and that perspective is crucial as most management is about interacting with others in some way.

Given that the 360 Degree Review process is quite literally that- a scan of the individual in a hierarchical way – everybody else sees the person from their own very specific perspective, which is a product of that person’s relationship with the individual being coached and their place in the hierarchy. As most business and organisational cultures revere role, people respond differently to someone who they perceive as having more power than them. Consequently, people are treated differently because of this and this comes out in the review responses. It is often called seeing through a ‘lens’; and that ‘lens’ is a product of many variables in relationship terms.

Many people when confronted with 360 Degree Review feedback or information often seek to know who said what and, as the previous comment indicated, the reason for that is self-evident (apart from a desire to ‘get even’ perhaps), usually it does not help the process of learning. The 360 Degree Review is a confidential process and so the information will not be given anyway, but it is also due to this factor that no area of improvement will be brought into the feedback process unless it is something that a majority of people in the review commented upon.

The Review looks at the following areas:

  • Communication
  • Availability to others
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Decision making
  • Relationships with staff
  • Team and external business partners

Within these areas there are obvious sub issues that are revealed, for example time management and meeting management. Each section has six scores running from ‘excellent’ through to ‘very low’ and again weighting towards one end or the other it is that which is sought out and developed. The review also asks what the candidate does that reviewers wish them to continue to do, what the candidate should consider doing, and what the candidate should stop doing. These perspectives together with the numerical assessments usually give a picture of the individual concerned and this is more valuable than a statistical score as it informs the person, and from this emanates areas for action.

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