Posted on September 24, 2009 in Articles, Coaching, Leadership by Rachael

  AA | AA


snowflakeCoaching is more and more being acknowledged as a core ability for outstanding leadership. Here is Alan Lafley, outgoing CEO of P&G, on his coaching leadership style, which he believes has helped him achieve transformative change at P&G:

“….Coaching at P&G doesn’t mean coddling. On the contrary, Lafley demands that his managers take on the responsibility of making tough strategic choices. “Most human beings and most companies don’t like to make choices. And they particularly don’t like to make a few choices that they really have to live with. They argue, ‘It’s much better to have lots of options, right?'”

Those extraneous options have a way of reappearing on the table after they have been dismissed. Lafley therefore insists on a “not-do list” as an end product of the strategy process……”

In a way, this is a bit like how a coach works with an executive…. firstly by supporting the client as they paint a picture of their purpose and direction, and open up all the possible options of getting there, discovering some new options they perhaps wouldn’t otherwise have considered.

Sometimes though, the desire to keep several options open may seem attractive (and sometimes it is necessary for a while), but often keeping options open can be a way of avoiding real commitment.

So part of being a great coach is to be able to challenge the client to focus and commit. And the timing is crucial…if the client is not ready to commit, there will be some more “stuff” getting in the way which will need working through first. Helping the client focus is rather like sharpening the camera lens on the image, bit by bit, and then supporting them in being quite determined about cutting out any “extraneous options”, as Alan Lafley says.

The full article was published in the McKinzie Quarterly by Rajat Gupta and Jim Wendler