Leadership

Survey Says: Train Leaders on These Top 10 Topics

In yesterday’s Advisor, we related how leaders are becoming more engaged with employees by getting involved in training. Today, we examine the results of a recent survey on the top 10 coaching topics for various levels of leaders in the workplace.

Results of a survey, “Coaching for the 21st Century,” by Korn Ferry of over 200 coaching professionals from around the globe show the importance of executive coaching and the impact it has on organizational success in a time of volatility and uncertainty.

As part of the survey, respondents were asked to identify the top 10 most frequently used coaching topics across all levels of leadership. Respondents identified interpersonal and communication skills such as influence, listening, and empathy as key coaching topics. Self-awareness, a topic identified in research as crucial (yet frequently a derailer), ranks high for all leaders and is at the top of the list for C-suite leaders.

Here, in order, are the top 10 coaching topics for C-suite-level leaders:

  1. Self-awareness
  2. Interpersonal relationships, listening skills, and empathy
  3. Influence
  4. Leading during times of change
  5. Communication skills
  6. Motivation and engagement, leading with vision, and purpose
  7. Building effective teams
  8. Strategy and strategic thinking
  9. Working with uncertainty and ambiguity; decision skills
  10. Mentoring, developing internal talent, succession

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For business unit leaders (SVP, VP) these, in order, are the top 10 coaching topics:

  1. Interpersonal relationships, listening skills, empathy
  2. Influence
  3. Self-awareness
  4. Communication skills
  5. Motivation and engagement
  6. Building effective teams
  7. Mentoring, developing internal talent, succession
  8. Delegation, empowerment
  9. Leading during times of change
  10. Working with uncertainty and ambiguity; decision skills

And here, in order, are the top 10 coaching topics for the midlevel leader, senior manager, or function head:

  1. Interpersonal relationships, listening skills, empathy
  2. Influence
  3. Communication skills
  4. Self-awareness
  5. Delegation, empowerment
  6. Building effective teams
  7. Motivation and engagement
  8. Working with uncertainty and ambiguity; decision skills
  9. Mentoring, developing internal talent, succession
  10. Time and energy management

“While coaches previously may have helped individual leaders craft and articulate a vision, moving forward they see the need for leaders to co-create the vision by engaging a wider network of relationships,” said Allen Moore, Korn Ferry’s global lead for executive coaching.

As leaders drive innovation and adaptation at relentless speeds, they must sustain a core enduring vision to keep their organizations focused. Coaches reflect this in their survey feedback, listing “clarifying purpose” and “articulating meaning,” as well as “creating and communicating vision,” as top coaching needs for leaders in times of volatility and uncertainty.


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One respondent summed up the comments of many: “Coaches will have to move beyond the realm of the one-to-one, isolated coaching relationship. They will need to be engaged in and understand the business, the organizational and social systems and the dynamics of the senior team.” Such responses suggest that, beyond working with leaders to clarify vision and direction, coaches also should work with leaders’ broader teams to support shared meaning, coherent action, and agreed upon practices.