The Coaching Advantage

October 21, 2015

“My job was to make everyone understand that the impossible was possible.” (Alex Ferguson)

We don’t question the fact that world-class footballers need world-class Coaches to perform to their best, so why do we question this outside the world of sport?

“We hired you as the expert. Why do we need to get a Coach?”  This is the reaction that Directors of Development fear when looking for support in their roles, particularly in the education sector.  But why should this be the case in institutions that exist to further skills, training, and development?

In the world of business, the role of Coach has long been accepted for CEOs and senior directors.  The CEO is hired to run an organisation, but can’t be expected to have the answers to every issue, and needs to discuss matters that are difficult to express even to his or her closest lieutenants.  Finance Directors have long been supported by external advice and opinion. Why should fundraising be any different?

Chief Fundraisers have a lonely and high-profile job.  Those to whom they answer rarely have experience of the unusual world of fundraising or sales, and there are common misconceptions about what does and does not work.  They are judged by public targets and hard numbers that few other areas are subject to.

For those new to the top fundraising role, the Coach can give invaluable guidance on mistakes to avoid, and can bring experience to fresh and exciting talent.  They can give insights on creating effective strategies, on managing top performers in their teams, and on facing problems to get the right outcome.

For experienced Directors, the Coach provides the role of trusted advisor – a sounding board to check new ideas.  They can also push the Director to raise sights, to take bold and different paths, to take appropriate risks.  I had and still have a number of Coaches throughout my career. Without them, I would not have undertaken my first leadership role, would not have planned a major Campaign, and would not have started a new business.  All of these decisions have been right for the organisations I have worked for, and have enriched me in the process.

The Coaching advantage is to bring in many decades of experience that you can’t get in one Director or CEO.  Coaches bring views from different sectors and organisations with different ways of thinking.  They are a crucial part of the trinity of making good choices – consult, consider, decide.

And on the really big matters, the ones that transform you and the organisations you work for, they help you believe that the impossible is not only possible, but vital.

-Shaun Horan, Managing Director

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