Unlocked: The 7 ways that show why 20 minutes is the new sweet spot for leadership coaching.  

This article has the potential of making me very unpopular in the over-crowded marketplace of leadership coaching. 

And I’m fine with that. 

I’m not going out of my way to alienate people. Quite the opposite. 

I want to inform and help. 

It just happens that the people I want to inform and help are not other coaches but leaders of change and organisational transformation who have accountability for doing better than the standard 70% failure rate of most change efforts. Those who need to galvanise the leaders and managers in the business to balance the challenging tasks of keeping the lights on, whilst also delivering the change agenda. The ‘sticky middle’ have a tough job but effective COOs, CPOs and CTOs (transformation not technology) know that supporting this critical layer in the organisation, developing their change capabilities, and aligning them fully behind the transformation will result in both business growth and efficiencies. 

All of which can be achieved in 20 minutes. 

What’s good for the goose …

A bit of background might help explain my disruptive stance.

I have been an Executive Coach for over twenty years, it’s work that I love and it is a privilege to do it. Coaching has proved a highly effective approach to helping people achieve the goals they need to meet and overcome the barriers they need to work on. But I have long felt that coaching is not optimised for the customer so much as it is for the coach. The coach-originated dogmatism needs replacing with a client-centric pragmatism. Coaching needs to reflect a market and the working experiences of employees that have moved on since the mid-1980s when coaching first became popular in the workplace. 

No longer should 6 x 2-hour coaching sessions be the default coaching format. It’s outmoded as a way of working with busy leaders. I’m not saying it doesn’t have a place, it’s just not the only way to obtain the benefits of great coaching. Moreover, effective coaching should be made accessible to a greater proportion of people inside an organisation and not solely be the preserve of those in the C-suite. 

One person’s innovation is another person’s disruption

Clients of coaching report they want sessions more regularly than the typical 1 every 4/6 weeks. They also prefer shorter sessions, that reflect the pressures on their time. But more than that, shorter sessions mean several important things can happen that are not available in longer, less regular sessions. Here are the top seven reasons you should consider Exigence Concise Coaching to support your leaders and managers who are accountable for delivering the goals of your transformation.

  1. Short sessions enable fuller concentration to be brought to a coaching conversation and maintained. This is key for both the coach and the client. The result is more focus and better quality experience. 
  2. There is less padding. Most coaches we have spoken with, recognise that in longer sessions there is a lot of re-rapport building that occurs at the start of each session, which is frankly a waste of valuable time. We have found ways to eliminate the need for this which means stakeholders are getting much greater value from shorter coaching sessions. 
  3. Shorter sessions require some pre-work, which as coaches we always hope happens ahead of our coaching sessions but unless you have a methodology that prompts such thinking (Concise Coaching does!) then leaders often arrive without having given the aims and objectives of their coaching session sufficient time and space to prepare. No judgement, it is just a reality of being a busy leader in an organisation. But again, this can result in wasted time and investment. 
  4. Fewer cancellations: If a 2 hour coaching session has to be postponed or cancelled at the last minute because of the nature of the leader’s job or the context of the business, that is a significant cost to the organisation, written off for no benefit. Worst case if that happens with Concise Coaching, 20 minutes gets lost. 
  5. More flexibility: Exigence Concise Coaching can be booked on a needs-led basis and as a result a leader/manager who wants access to a coach, can have one within 24 hours rather than having to wait another 4 to 6 weeks for their next traditional coaching session, by which stage the ‘emergency’ will have passed. 
  6. Developing the reflective practitioner: All Exigence Concise Coaching sessions are followed by some guided reflection exercises so that leaders can reflect on their insights and also firm up their action plans. All of this activity begins to help develop more proactive and thoughtful leaders, leading ultimately to greater self- and other-people-awareness.
  7. And whilst it can be a bit frustrating for coaches, we all recognise that much of the development that coaching generates comes as a result of the experimenting and trials that leaders undertake as a result of the coaching session. Real-life contexts are needed in which to practise and learn, not the petri dish of an uninterrupted 2 hours with an Exec Coach. Shorter, more frequent sessions enable this in an approach that is more akin to Sprint methodology rather than a waterfall or more linear approach. 

At Exigence we have experimented with a range of lengths of coaching conversations and with the preparatory and follow-up sessions that wrap around sessions, have found that 20 minutes is the sweet spot for coaches familiar with our methodology, to deliver amazing results, in a way that leaders and managers love as an experience and that allows for significant and lasting changes to be made. Much shorter and the pressure of time inhibits change. Any longer and you start to experience the same issues as longer sessions.

20 minutes is both highly effective and cost-efficient. So affordable in fact that a Chief Operating Officer observed recently that one session was 20X more affordable than a traditional coaching session. So, when you need to provide individualised support for key cohorts of your change leaders and managers, let us know and we would be happy to help.

Just click here to contact us and we’ll get straight back to you.

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