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 five core leadership competencies via the following process:
Step 1: Assess Competency Focus
From the onset, Coaches will work with Coachees to identify leadership opportunities. Coachees will also be given access to Georgia Tech’s Coaching Portal and asked to complete a 360-degree survey of their leadership skills. Coachees will assess their own leadership abilities and invite peers and/or advisors, supervisors, friends, and coworkers to give them feedback as well. Although the 360-survey is not required for the coaching engagement to start, we encourage students to complete one at some point during the engagement since the 360-degree survey:
- Provides continuous learning and growing that can improve performance and increase contribution
- Helps determine specific skills and behaviors that represent strengths and areas for development
- In conjunction with coaching, prompts the Coachee to reflect, develop and act on ideas for change
Once completed, Coachees will review their results with their Coach identifying and understanding strengths and perception gaps between themselves and their outside raters. Coachees will select a specific competency focus and will develop leadership experiments to practice implementing their action steps.
Step 2: Design Action Step(s) / Experiment(s)
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: Conduct Experiment(s)
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: Reflect on Experiment / Document 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 weaknesses 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 ask deep reflective questions and Coachees complete each of these four steps over and over again to intentionally growth and develop their leadership skills, thus reaching their full leadership potential.