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While some people immediately sweep the idea of business coaching off the table tagging it as “hocus-pocus”, coaching enthusiasts say that it has grown into a multi-billion-dollar industry for a reason. Coach Jen Martin speaks to Business Malta about her experiences, as well as how she believes a coach can help businesses grow and leaders meet their aims better. Ms Martin is one of the speakers at the Breakthrough – From Good to Great conference by Business Leaders Malta, happening on 14 June at Teatru Manoel, Valletta.

“In my opinion, it all boils down to one word: results. Does coaching work? Yes, it does. How do we know? We see, and critically, we can measure the results using science-based tools,” Ms Martin tells BM. “As I see it, the bottom line is that coaching has produced and continues to produce significant results, without which companies would simply be unwilling to invest. Without evidence to support their investment, companies would look elsewhere for their desired results,” she adds.

Coaching — as an industry — is growing fast. Advocates say the activity can be a powerful resource and vehicle for growth, development and change for individuals, as well as businesses. As life is speeding up, leading to a hastier business world than ever, Ms Martin sees coaching as an “invaluable support” rather than a “crutch”. In her own words, “essentially, coaching is like consulting your inner compass and using the knowledge you find there to align cognition, emotion and behaviour.”

Nevertheless, coaching is not an instant cure; the client’s involvement is crucial. Additionally, the relationship between the coach and the coachee, the time invested in coaching and related activities, as well as belief in the process, are key elements for success. Ms Martin says that both the parties of the coaching process should share what she tags as “strong rapport” as a solid foundation. Also, in today’s culture of always being busy, coaching should be scheduled for slots of undivided attention, which often means prioritising well. What she pinpoints as the factor of “buying-in” basically means the coachee’s commitment and ownership of the process; as having a coach is not a stigma nor would be the sign of weakness. With these building blocks in place, coaching is likely to bear tangible fruit.

Ranging benefits

Given that all the aforementioned factors are established, benefits are expected on a wide spectrum, according to Ms Martin. “From a leadership perspective, coaching goals range greatly, often encompassing a focus such as improving communication, productivity and professional relationships, identifying and leveraging strengths, improving cognition and moving from reactivity to proactivity in challenging situations — to name but a few. Crucially, the benefit which produces long-term change and further development is heightened self-awareness — the point from which sustained change can flow,” the professional says.

Jen Martin, psychological coach and corporate trainer.

“Sometimes people have a result in mind but are not sure how to get there, how to propel themselves forward. Coaching assists them in sifting through their options to find their own golden ticket,” says Ms Martin.

“Coaching helps bring them to their psychological and behavioural tipping point, cut off all other possibilities, find the best route forward, and enable them to make their goals become a reality,” she adds.

At the same time, in order to boost operations of a business, leaders must have an understanding of where they are. “Before embarking on any journey, knowing your starting point is central to calculating the voyage. Assessing the present reality — leaks, current fuel, strengths and weaknesses — help us better establish what is needed to get us to our desired finish line,” Ms Martin describes. Although the destination might not always be clear, establishing a desired outcome is as necessary as establishing the starting point.

“Start and end point clear? Now let’s decipher the best route to get there — assessing potential risks, obstacles, challenges and mishaps. Self-awareness is the starting point of any great journey of personal or professional change,” Ms Martin says.

Facing challenges

The quickly-changing business world brings grave challenges to leaders, who need to be at the top of their game. As Ms Martin talks about it, this really is the survival of the fittest, with coaching serving as a mental, emotional and cognitive workout to maximise “fitness” for modern leadership challenges.

“Social, political, geographical, economic challenges; it is certainly not an exaggeration that the current pace of change across various spheres is phenomenal, bringing with it a great opportunity and of course, a great challenge for individuals, leaders and organisations alike,” Ms Martin says. Therefore, the most important challenges leaders need to face today include engagement, redefining leadership and communication.

Celebrating its tenth anniversary this year, Business Leaders Malta is organising the Breakthrough – From Good to Great conference by Business Leaders Malta on 14 June at Teatru Manoel, Valletta. If you want to hear what Ms Martin has to share, come and see her in action at the event.

Business Leaders Malta started life as an alliance between three diverse companies in 2009 — Mdina International, Jugs Malta and Konnekt, fusing capabilities, experience, professionalism and creativity to pursue their original goal of creating a forum where thought leaders and professionals could come together to share knowledge and ideas