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To identify the strengths and weaknesses of the coach’s practice and approaches, it is necessary to assess his behavior and tools against the leadership competencies proposed by Folkman and Zenger (“Frame the conversation: Setting the target,” 2010, p. 97). Coach Preczewski (Coach P.), who works for West Point, demonstrates the behavior that was not discussed by managers, authorities, and supervisors as appropriate to influence the quality of performances of the Army Crew team (Snook & Polzer, 2004, p. 2). The purpose of this paper is to assess possible strengths and weaknesses of the approach followed by Coach P. and provide recommendations oriented to improving the Coach’s practice.
Assessment of Strengths and Weaknesses in the Coach’s Style
The competency model developed by Folkman and Zenger includes sixteen competencies that are categorized in such groups as Character, Personal Capability, Focus on Results, Interpersonal Skills, and Leading Change. The key competencies against which it is reasonable to assess the Coach’s style are the focus on solving problems and analyzing issues; the focus on innovation; the focus on driving for results; the focus on establishing stretch goals; the powerful communication; the ability to inspire and motivate others; and the development of a strategic perspective. These competencies are selected because they represent four different categories. Table 1 presents the results of assessing the Coach’s style and approaches.
Table 1. Assessment Results.
|Competency||Level (Strength or Weakness)||Comments and Notes|
|Personal Capabilities |
Solves problems and analyzes issues
|Strength||Coach P. seems to have developed skills in analyzing issues and proposing strategies to address them as he spent much time examining possible causes of the crew’s problems.|
|Innovates||Strength||Coach P. chooses rather innovative training methods and approaches to work with the crews, but they can be inappropriate in some cases. Still, the focus on innovations is a good characteristic feature of a leader and a coach.|
|Getting Results |
Focuses on results
|Strength||Coach P. is focused on achieving the highest results.|
|Establishes stretch goals||Weakness||Despite being focused on reaching high results, Coach P. is not good at formulating and sharing clear and achievable goals that are based on the adequate assessment of team members’ possibilities and interactions.|
|Interpersonal skills |
Communicates powerfully and broadly
|Weakness||It is possible to state that Coach P. failed to develop effective communication strategies to guide his interactions with the crews and the communication of team members with each other.|
|Inspires and motivates others||Weakness||Although Coach P. intends to modify and improve his coaching style, it is too formal, and the members of the crew lack the motivation and reinforcement.|
|Leading change |
Develops strategic perspective
|Weakness||The inability of the Coach to develop an effective strategic perspective is associated with his inability to formulate goals.|
The results of the assessment indicate that Coach P. has the high potential to develop as an effective leader because of his personal capabilities based on his expertise (Goldsmith, 2008, p. 2), but he does not refer to aspects of the culture in West Point, as well as to developing the specific climate in the crew to improve the communication, recognize real causes of observed problems, and listen to the crew members to motivate them effectively.
Recommendations to Follow
Although Coach P. demonstrates the highly developed skills about such competencies as analyzing issues, solving problems, as well as focusing on innovations and achieving results, he does not refer to his strong sides as tools to cope with the weaknesses that prevent him from predicting and addressing possible problems in the crew. To address the Coach’s weaknesses, it is necessary to accentuate his strengths and use them as part of the strategy (Deal, Stawiski, Wilson, & Cullen, 2014, p. 4). The actual steps that need to be taken with references to Zenger and Stinnett’s approaches are the following ones:
- Referring to his ability to analyze the data, Coach P. should formulate effective goals for the team members’ development by the end of the next month and involve other specialists in developing the plan to achieve the set goals.
- By the end of the next month, Coach P. should start utilizing the FUEL (frame, understand, explore, layout) framework to organize the communication with individual members of the crew and focus on their visions of successes and problems.
- Coach P. should initiate weekly coaching discussions to discuss the crew’s progress regularly.
- Coach P. should conduct meetings during which the crew will discuss the problems and solutions to them monthly.
- Coach P. should conduct meetings during which the crew will discuss their progress weekly.
The first step is associated with the necessity of setting clear goals for the crew to show the direction in which it is necessary to move, and it is the first step to improving the competency in relation to the development of the strategic perspective. The focus on the FUEL framework is an important strategy to address the Coach’s problems in communicating with the team and recognizing real problems that they have while working with each other. The Coach needs to demonstrate that he is interested in the problems of team members and can propose an effective solution to them (“Layout the success plan: Emphasizing accountability,” 2010, p. 145).
Besides, instead of using competitions between the crews, the Coach should promote the shared vision that they have the same goal and that they need to move using the same clearly set goals. Coaching discussions are important to be used to identify all the areas that need further improvement, and they promote the communication of the team (“Does your coaching rest on a crumbling foundation,” 2010, p. 62). It is also necessary to involve team members in the regular discussions of problems and developing solutions to them as the current position of the Coach does not guarantee effective results. However, the real progress in the work of the team can be observed only with the focus on regular monitoring and discussions. Therefore, additional weekly meetings are necessary to motivate the crew members to achieve higher results.
The paper provides the assessment of the strong and weak sides in the coaching style followed by Coach P. with the focus on Folkman and Zenger’s competency model. The paper also presents the recommendations and the list of steps that need to be taken to improve the currently used coaching strategies. Much attention should be paid to developing the coach’s skills in communicating with the crew members and reacting to their visions, as well as setting and sharing the adequate goals that can motivate the crew.
Deal, J., Stawiski, S., Wilson, M., & Cullen, K. (2014). What makes an effective leader? Web.
Does your coaching rest on a crumbling foundation. (2010). In J. Zenger & K. Stinnett (Eds.), The extraordinary coach: How the best leaders help others grow (pp. 59-69). New York, NY: McGraw Hill Professional.
Frame the conversation: Setting the target. (2010). In J. Zenger & K. Stinnett (Eds.), The extraordinary coach: How the best leaders help others grow (pp. 81-101). New York, NY: McGraw Hill Professional.
Goldsmith, M. (2008). How can I do a better job of managing up? Harvard Management Update, 13(1), 1-3.
Lay out the success plan: Emphasizing accountability. (2010). In J. Zenger & K. Stinnett (Eds.), The extraordinary coach: How the best leaders help others grow (pp. 143-155). New York, NY: McGraw Hill Professional.
Snook, S. A., & Polzer, J. T. (2004). The Army Crew team. Harvard Business School, 9(1), 1-11.