What is Leadership Coaching?
Leadership coaching is an intensive one-to-one professional relationship that is structured toward improving the performance of the individual being coached and the mission results of the sponsoring organization.
Coaching involves a comprehensive assessment of an individual’s professional performance and goals, followed by the development of an action plan for improvement. The overarching goal is to produce results that are observable, measurable, and commensurate with the performance requirements of the person being coached. A primary focus is placed upon increased awareness, self-development and the alignment of individual and organizational goals.
Leadership coaching is a future-oriented relationship that is focused on understanding barriers to performance and designing strategies and actions to eliminate those barriers and improve effectiveness. The intended outcomes of coaching are long-term excellence, the competence to self-correct, and the ability to shift to a new behavior pattern versus coaching to a specific situation or problem. Coaching is most effectively employed when it is used to do one or more of the following:
- Address individual and organizational change, which will improve mission performance
- Enable personal transformation and career-role transition
- Support the development of future leaders
- Address a specific problem area or challenge
- Facilitate the creation of an organizational culture that values, learning, creativity, and continuous improvement.
Length of Coaching Relationship
Coaching relationships can vary in duration and complexity. Factors that may impact the length of time include: the types of goals, the ways individuals or teams like to work, the frequency of coaching meetings, and financial resources available to support coaching.
Research shows that the length of the coaching partnership is typically between 6 to 12 months. The number of coaching hours within this time frame range from 6 to 24 hours on average. However, some individuals require additional hours depending on their developmental needs and/or implementation of a plan. These additional hours are typically 40 to 60 hours within a 6- to 12-month period.
A coach may use assessment instruments to help focus the coaching process. Short-term, feedback coaching generally takes from one-to six months and is intended to provide immediate feedback to the individual to help him or her develop a plan to address specific needs. Longer term, in-depth coaching involves a close, long-term relationship between the coach and individual to address specific needs, and generally lasts from six to twelve months. This type of coaching will involve more-in-depth data collection and analysis with an intensive feedback session. Generally, a coach will continue to work with the client until the plan is implemented.
Types of Coaching Relationships
Three different types of coaching relationships are used at NASA: external, internal, and supervisory. Internal coaching is a facilitative one-to-one, mutually designed coaching relationship between a NASA civil servant certified coach and a key NASA employee who is accountable for highly complex decisions with wide scope of impact on the NASA organization, government, and industry as a whole. External coaching has all the same components as those identified for internal coaches with exception that the relationship is between a key NASA employee and a trained, certified coach hired from outside the Agency. External coaches are acquired through the normal rules and regulations of Government procurement and should be done through the Center’s coaching POC. Supervisory coaching occurs in the course of day-to-day interactions between managers and employees.
Currently, Langley Research Center has three avenues for leadership coaching: (1) external coaching through the Learning as Leadership 4-Mastery Leadership Development Program, (2) external coaching through the Agency coaching contract with Cambria Consulting, Inc., (3) internal coaching through NASA coaching cadre, and (4) other external coaching venues (i.e., 4-D systems, Agency developmental programs and Center procured vendors).
Langley’s Leadership Coaching Policy
Coaching is recognized as an effective tool in developing leaders and enhancing leaders’ performance. Coaching is incorporated into Langley leadership programs as well as many Agency development programs. This policy applies to all Langley leaders.
Some leaders may be selected to attend the Learning as Leadership 4-Mastery Program. In this program participants attend four off-site seminars over a 1-year period and receive 12 months of bi-weekly coaching. During and between each seminar, participants are assigned a personal executive coach who will partner with them to optimize their experience, learning and implementation. As participants confront challenging individual and team situations, the individual and team coaching will support them to break through the dissonance of change and be accountable to their goals and commitments.
Once the 4-Mastery Program has been completed, a leader may contact the Training, Development and Employee Relations Branch (TDERB), Office of Human Capital Management (OHCM), to request an additional six months of coaching through LaL to complete all unfinished work. The leader will be required to provide a brief summary of the focus of the coaching engagement to date and the rationale for the request for extension. If at the end of this six-month period the leader believes he/she needs additional coaching, a written request by his/her supervisor may be submitted to the TDERB for consideration. Any additional coaching required at the end of the 2-year coaching period with LaL (12 months in the 4-Mastery Program and 12 additional months of coaching) will have to be accomplished through the Agency coaching contract. Exceptions to this policy will only be made in extenuating circumstances and will be approved by the Center Director.
The Cambria Consulting, Inc. (Agency contract) offers three coaching options.
- Development Jump-Start (12 hours). Typically lasting about 3 months, the objectives of this short-term engagement are: identification of priority development needs to include, if appropriate, a brief data gathering interview with the leader’s supervisor; ensuring the creation of a development action plan; and initiation of action in pursuit of development objectives. The leader is quickly transitioned to continuing their development on their own, with support from their supervisor and the HR personnel.
- Standard Leadership Coaching (24 hours). Lasting approximately 6 months, this engagement option expands on the data gathering process described in the “Development Jump-Start” option by giving the coach the time to interview additional individuals who surround the coachee. It also provides for additional check-in coaching sessions as the coachee begins to make progress against development goals.
- Expanded Leadership Coaching (40 hours). This less common option provides for either more frequent sessions over a similar period of time as the Standard Leadership Coaching option, or for the same frequency of sessions over a longer period (such as a year). This may be preferable for managers who have a focused development goal they want to achieve in a short time frame or for very senior leaders whose engagement may include strategic issues of their own agenda in addition to development objectives.
If upon completion of one of the Cambria coaching options a leader requires additional coaching for any unfinished work, he/she may request an extension through the TDERB. The leader will be required to provide a brief summary of the focus of the coaching engagement to date and the rationale for the request for extension.
Acquiring a Coach through Cambria Consulting
The process for acquiring a Cambria coach is as follows.
Client contacts LaRC Coaching Program Coordinator
LaRC Program Coordinator and Client complete Intake Questionnaire
Client completes Preference Guide gives to LaRC Program Coordinator
LaRC Program Coordinator provides completed Preference Guide and estimated hours to NASA HQ
Workforce Management & Development Division
Workforce Management & Development Division requests 2-3 résumés from potential coaches through Cambria Consulting
Cambria e-mails resumes to Client
Client reviews resumes and/or arranges interview if necessary and selects Coach
Client verifies expected outcomes and number of estimated hours
Client notifies LaRC Program Coordinator of Coach selection
LaRC Coordinator notifies NASA HQ
Workforce Management & Development Division
Workforce Management & Development Division authorizes coaching hours and notifies Cambria of selection
Cambria notifies Coach
Coach and client set a mutually agreeable time for first appointment
Coaching relationship begins
Internal NASA Coaches
The Agency has a cadre of certified civil service coaches from across the Center’s, who are available to provide leadership coaching. An internal coach can be acquired by contacting your Center POC for coaching. Biographies on internal coaches are available for client review. Leaders can work with their Center POC to identify a coach to best suit his/her needs. The number of coaching hours offered through internal coaches would be between 6 and 24. This would occur over a 3 to 12 month period of time and negotiated with the internal coach.
External Coaching Options
(i.e., 4-D Systems, Agency development programs, Center procured vendors)
The guidelines for acquiring a coach through 4-D or an Agency development program are identified by the Program representative. Center procured coaching vendors are acquired through commercial sources so the normal procurement rules and regulations must be applied for these services. Therefore, it is inappropriate for individuals to enter into agreements about coaching services directly with any external Leadership Coaching provider. Leaders should work with the Center POC for coaching when acquiring a coach via this method. As with the other methods of coaching, the number of coaching hours offered through an external coaching engagement would be between 6 and 24 and occur over a 3 to 12 month period of time.
Who do I contact if I’m interested in acquiring an Executive Coach?
Dan Cherry, LaRC Program Coordinator, 42595
Point of Contact
Human Resources Specialist