As we watch the best athletes in the world compete in the Summer Olympic Games in Brazil, it’s worth keeping in mind that they didn’t get there alone.

Though the coaches don’t sprint around the track, plunge into the pool, or don the medals on the podium, they make instrumental contributions to their athletes’ success.

Any organization working to develop world-class leaders should pay attention to that lesson.

That’s why the most successful leadership development programs include coaching as an integrated element.

The biggest challenge leadership development programs face is ensuring that participants take what they learn and apply it to their jobs and their organizations.

The idea behind integrated coaching is straightforward: Help participants in these development programs deepen, apply, and sustain what they’re learning.

Effective integrated coaching, with skilled coaches collaborating with participants using a proven development framework, can provide the edge that drives leaders, and their organizations, into first place.

It’s the difference between just competing in the Olympics and taking home a medal.

It’s also the difference between getting your full ROI from a leadership development program and struggling to defend that budget item next time.

How Integrated Coaching Works

Research shows the odds of acting on something you’ve learned go up if you write down specific goals focused on applying that learning.

The odds of achieving a goal increase more if the goal is shared with someone else, and even more when an accountability partner is involved.

Coaches who work with leadership development program participants provide that accountability—and more.

They work with managers to create developmental goals that translate their learning into behavior change and improved performance on the job.

The coach can also help them overcome specific challenges they may face.

Integrated coaching can take several forms.

  • It may simply include a one-on-one follow-up call between an LD program participant and coach. A coach and the participant will work together to identify the greatest challenges in implementing what she learned, and then together figure out how to move forward.
  • In other circumstances, integrated coaching might include a session to help a participant understand evaluations they took, a session together to write a personalized development plan with specific goals and objectives, and maybe even sessions with the participant’s supervisor to align expectations and solicit ongoing support and feedback.
  • Many leadership development programs even kick off with an integrated coaching session before participants show up in a classroom. This initial coaching session is designed to help participants clarify why they are embarking on this leadership development experience and helps them articulate what they hope to get out of the program.

Whatever the case, the goal is the same—to maximize the value of the LD program for both the organization and individuals by ensuring participants have the challenge, support, and accountability they need to implement and sustain their new skills.

Learn more about coaching to ensure your organization’s success.

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