There is often an equal amount of fuzziness when it comes to Leadership Development and Leadership Coaching. As a result, the coaching issue can get blurred. So here are some suggestions after a lot of years wrestling with the issue.
When it comes to coaching--or any kind of consulting activity--90% of the success or failure lies in the contracting phase. So:
1. Get clear about who initiated the coaching request. If it was a boss, be sure to understand what that person is looking for and why. Which means also asking, "Who really set this process in motion?" (Your boss may be the messenger).
2. What are the specific results desired from the coaching engagement? While Leadership is a sexy, catch-all phrase, maybe the real issue is managing team performance, running better meetings, or initiating conversations with colleagues in other corporate locations. (All three have emerged after probing underneath the Leadership umbrella during contracting).
3. Is coaching the best way to get at the desired growth? The fact of the matter is that some things are skills than can be learned in other ways. And if you ask yourself how you best learned Leadership, the thoughtful answer will probably be "from leading." Be prepared to suggest expanded responsibility. People grow by being lifted up, then stepping up.
(Effective coaches know when it's time to simply hold the ladder).