Leading Edge is an intentional coaching program that adapts the real-world practices and approaches of executive leadership coaching to meet the needs of both graduate and undergraduate student leaders while also preparing them for leadership positions once they graduate. Coaching provides Georgia Tech graduate (Coaches) and undergraduate (Coachees) students with the opportunity to significantly build on eight leadership competencies via the following process:
Step 1: 360 Assessment
Before coaching begins, Coachees will be given access to Georgia Tech’s Leadership Development Portal and asked to complete a 360-degree assessment of their leadership skills. Coachees will assess their own leadership abilities and invite as many as 8 of their peers, advisors, supervisors, friends, and coworkers to give them feedback as well. Once the assessment is complete, Coachees will meet with their coach to review their results, identify perception gaps between themselves and their outside raters, and select two competencies that they wish to focus on during the coaching engagement.
Step 2: Determine Action Steps
After a Coachee has determined what leadership competencies he or she would like to focus on, the Coachee will meet with their coach to determine what action steps are necessary to improve their mastery of each competency. Effective action steps are specific and measurable. An example of an effective action step meant to target Collaboration with Others could be to “improve communication within my senior design team by giving every member of the group a chance to speak before making a decision.”
Step 3: Experiment
Once action steps have been successfully identified, Coachees will be encouraged to practice implementing their action steps via leadership experiments. A leadership experiment can be something as simple as volunteering an opinion during a group discussion or something as involved as developing a communication strategy for a group that is susceptible to conflict. The intensity of the experiment is dependent solely on the willingness of the coachee to engage in the exercise. Experimentation provides a controlled learning experience for Coachees that allows them to implement their action steps, gauge the reaction of their followers, and make course corrections based on those reactions.
Step 4: Develop Key Insights
In this step Coaches will assist their Coachees by encouraging them to dive deeper and attempt to understand the root cause of specific reaction or behavior. Once these “key insights” have been developed, Coachees will then be able to harvest the lessons they have learned from a specific experiment and integrate this new understanding into their every-day leadership practices and apply it to future engagements.
Measureable outcomes for leadership coaching for the coachee include:
- The identification and understanding of the coachee’s own strengths and weakness across the common set of leadership competencies
- An awareness of the role that each leadership competency plays in both personal and professional leadership roles
- The ability to link leadership behavior to successful outcomes both in and out of the classroom
- Recognition of the importance of self-reflection, inter-personal communication, contextual awareness, and self-monitoring
An important note for students interested in participating in leadership coaching to remember is that the coaching process, much like the process of leadership, is iterative. Coaches and their coaches will complete each of these four steps over and over again as the coachee experiments, develops new insights, and pivots their behavior based on the results of their experiments and each experiment will help the coachee reach their full leadership potential.