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Nurturing Your Leaders

Business people

Marielena Sabatier discusses the merits of executive coaching to bring out the latent leadership skills and build team trust in your organisation.

According to figures showing the economy grew by 0.1% in the last three months of 2009, the recession is officially over. However, for many businesses it doesn't feel like it. With job losses, cut backs and pay freezes continuing in the private and public sector and damaged employee morale in many companies, much work is needed in order for them to rebuild successfully.

In their latest Labour Market Survey, The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and consulting firm KPMG predicted that redundancies will double in the first quarter of 2010, compared with the previous period. In addition, although private sector employment looks set to increase for the first time since the recession, this looks set to be offset by major job losses in the public sector.

But even though 2010 looks set to be another tough year there is a great deal that companies can do now in order to rebuild trust and re-energise their employees to focus on the goals ahead.

Are your leaders communicating the business goals?

 A good starting point for rebuilding is examining communication. Are leaders clearly and consistently communicating the company's vision and business goals? This sounds obvious, but it is something many companies do poorly or fail to do at all. A recent survey from the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) revealed that just 24% of employees said that the management at their company had communicated clearly their business objectives for 2010. In addition, 32% had no idea if a clear vision for their business exists.

It goes without saying that if your workforce doesn't know where it is going, it can't be expected to get there. Creating a compelling and believable vision will motivate your workforce and you will be far more likely to achieve your goals.

Do you have the right leaders in place?

 The recession has tested the mettle of leaders in companies across the UK, highlighting in some cases, skills gaps and poor leadership behaviour. With recovery around the corner, it is a good time for leaders to look closely at their skills and identify areas of development and training needed.

According to the recent International HR Barometer survey of 550 senior HR management professionals from The Scala Group, The Ace Network and law firm Salans, many companies have already started to address their leadership challenges. The research stated that almost two thirds (64%) of UK respondents said they were strengthening their leadership capability, whilst 70% were looking to coach line managers, focus on training, up-skilling and dealing with under performers.

In fact, executive coaching is increasingly used by companies around the world to improve the self awareness, confidence and communication skills of leaders. A 2009 study by the International Coaching Federation Global Coaching Client Study of more than 2,000 coaching clients in 64 countries highlighted the benefits coaching can deliver with 80% of respondents stating they have made positive changes in areas such as interpersonal skills, work performance and team effectiveness as a result.

But as well as coaching leaders, it is important to look at the impact of their leadership behaviour on employees. How do staff in the company rate the leadership? What do they see as the key strengths and weaknesses of the leaders? A 360 degree assessment will not only pinpoint areas of learning and development for leaders, but at the same time provide valuable insight into the mood of the workforce.

Building communication and trust in your teams

To improve how teams work together, it is also essential to build trust and improve communication. How do team members relate to each other? Are they tolerant of each others' working style? One of most common communication problems in any business is people misunderstanding what other people tell them or what they are trying to say, so communication is a key area to focus on.

According to the Myers Briggs type Instrument (MBTI) there are 16 types of people all of whom receive and process information differently. Some people need to talk to process what they are thinking; while others need time to reflect. Some people come up with big creative ideas, whereas others are focussed on practical issues. Some people make decisions based on logic and others make them based on their impact on others, and of course, there are organised people versus spontaneous ones.

Team building training sessions not only can reveal how different we all are and how our brains are all wired differently, but the importance of not taking other peoples' behaviour personally. For example: people often get angry if someone is late and they have to wait for them. They think their time is not being valued and that the person is disrespectful or irresponsible. But, in reality, the person could be late because they are trying to do too much, and it doesn't have anything to do them. Improving trust and communication is all about understanding and being tolerant and accepting of different personalities in the workplace.

So here are a few tips to rebuild morale and improve communication:

Marielena Sabatier is co-founder of coaching and leadership development firm Inspiring Potential.

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