Coaching to the next level

Coaching to the next level

Executive coaching can help your leaders grow.

April 25, 2018

Coaching was once considered a remedial tool to help poor performers improve their work.

But that’s not how human resource (HR) professionals view coaching today.

“It’s how well you’re preparing the organization and developing the next generation of leaders,” Steve Heinen tells attendees at the CUNA HR & Organizational Development Council Conference Tuesday in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

An executive coach can provide leaders a tailored process for their development and offer guidance during that process. But Heinen cautions that while coaching is similar to mentoring, there are big difference between the two approaches.

Coaching involves an external person, and is a shorter duration that focuses on developing experience and a greater self-awareness of the leader's impact on others. Mentoring is often ongoing or long-term, and involves a senior-level leader partnering with a junior-level employee to provide perspective or offer advice.

“Anyone can call themselves a coach,” says Heinen, an executive coach who helps leaders accelerate their potential and enhance their effectiveness. “You need to look at what the needs are of the individual and what expertise a particular coach offers. But ultimately it comes down to chemistry and fit. The coach and the person being coached must have a trusting relationship.”

Heinen says organizations typically use coaching in two situations:

1. Enhance the performance of a key performer. This is the most common use, Heinen says. It’s designed to identify behaviors and make changes that help leaders become more effective at their jobs.

2. Grow to a higher level of responsibility. This type of coaching often prepares a strong performer for a new position that comes with more responsibility, but also involves a different set of skills.

Organizations can  also use coaching for what Heinen calls "transition points." This includes when someone, often from outside the organization, assumes a new role and may be struggling with expectations or the culture.

It's also used when an organization decides to speed up a succession plan and begin to move a high-performing individual who has been tagged as potential leader into a new role more quickly, or when a leader faces unfamiliar situations involving change or crisis.

The common thread is that people are facing new situations and new risks. “By providing coaching, you can increase your chances of success.”

Heinen says organizations also use executive coaching to improve:

  • Leadership development training, by combining all multiple aspects of such efforts.
  • Executive team development, sometimes by using a combination of team and individual coaching.
  • Workplace culture, so leaders can better communicate and educate others about the culture.
  • The merger process, by helping executives in both institutions carry out the merger and bring the two organizations together.

►Visit CUNA News for more conference coverage, and get live updates on Twitter via @CUNAJennifer@cumagazine@cunacouncils, and by using the #HRODcouncil hashtag. Learn more about the CUNA HR & Organizational Development Council, a member-led professional society for credit union executives, at