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Picture: 123RF/ALEKSANDR DAVYDOV
Picture: 123RF/ALEKSANDR DAVYDOV

In this time of disruption as a result Covid-19, lies the opportunity for business leaders to grow and develop their leadership capacity and response to change. This “business unusual” also presents an ideal time and space for people to reconsider their priorities and create new ways of thinking, being and doing. For business leaders, entrepreneurs and executives who are seeking positive growth, this could be the perfect time to embark on a coaching journey.

“Not only does coaching enable leaders to be more effective and resourceful in their current position, it helps them develop their full potential and transform into sustained peak performance,” says Mapule Mafokeng, a lecturer in coaching skills at Wits Business School (WBS).

“Coaching, even though regarded as an emerging but rapidly growing field in SA and globally, has never been more needed and important,” says Dr Jabulile Msimango-Galawe, programme director of the master of management in business and executive coaching (MM-BEC) at WBS.

“The challenges that business leaders and executives are faced with today require a different level of thinking, being and showing up. The question is, who is ready and who will remain standing after the dust has settled?” 

As universities move to online teaching, the 2020 cohort of MM-BEC students at WBS are embracing an opportunity to explore what it means to coach and be coached, anywhere and any time.

“The pandemic is teaching our students how to be adaptable as a coach and leader in the Vuca [volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous] world. While this is the first MM-BEC cohort to experience online learning at WBS, we are excited to move forward in this time of uncertainty.

“The Vuca world is no longer in the future: it is now, and it’s exciting to see how the team has embraced technology, leveraged our industry networks and put together a programme that will best prepare our students to serve SA’s future executives and business leaders,” says Elona Hlatshwayo, a lecturer of coaching process and practice at WBS.

“This is an opportunity we have taken to adapt, and those who adapt fast will have the competitive advantage. The digital world dictates to us [the teaching and training coaching fraternity] to move and move fast. Online business coaching is not a thing in the distant future, it is here now and we have to act now,” says Msimango-Galawe.  

She says the future clients of executive coaching students are adapting to the new work-from-home (WFH) reality, and that coaches need to be prepared to serve them accordingly.

“Now, more than ever, executives need coaching to perform under difficult circumstances, particularly as businesses buckle under the stress of lockdown. We need to ensure that we are developing coaches who are ready to coach in a difficult environment.”

Most executives in SA experienced an increase in their responsibilities in the weeks leading up to lockdown with raised panic levels and pressure to bring their “A game”. With limited time, many had to navigate issues of data security, WFH readiness, productivity concerns, and the health and wellbeing of their employees.  

“As coaches, our role is to partner with the client to ensure that they step into the chaos of change with confidence, and to deliver effectively for their teams and clients,” says Hlatshwayo.

“Being able to achieve this requires that the coach anticipates and adapts to change, not just in being able to use an online platform, but also enabling our clients to change their mindset about the crisis they’re experiencing, see the opportunities presented by it, and be able to support their teams and manage their own wellbeing.”

For Msimango-Galawe and her coaching faculty at WBS, the key to preparing their students for the market is to develop change agility, a vital skill for coaches to adapt their coaching methods to meet new challenges as they arise.  

“Going online is an important step towards developing a new breed of coaches who are future-fit. As Socrates said: ‘The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.’”

For information on Wits Business School’s master of management in business and executive coaching, visit www.wbs.ac.za.

This article was paid for by Wits Business School.

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