Coaching the focus of leadership retreats

by Megan Blusys, Academic Affairs | April 27, 2018

Image with caption: UNMC leaders attend a coaching workshop.

UNMC leaders attend a coaching workshop.

This spring marked the culmination of focused training and development in the art of coaching for 100 of UNMC's most influential leaders. This is part of an organizational priority to expand a deliberate and active talent coaching culture at UNMC.

What is coaching?

Coaching is a thought-provoking, generative processes that is intended to maximize personal and professional potential.

The goal of the intensive, applied training was two-fold:
  • To foster a culture of coaching by further developing the participants' skills to effectively coach and grow their teams; and
  • To allow for richer dialogue between top leaders as they shared their own talent development challenges and examined the impact of coaching solutions.

The event was sponsored by the Office of Faculty Development and the UNMC Coaching Steering Committee, which includes Howard Liu, M.D., interim chair of the UNMC Department of Psychiatry, Kyle Meyer, Ph.D., dean for the UNMC College of Allied Health Professions, and Janet Guthmiller, D.D.S., Ph.D., dean for the UNMC College of Dentistry.

"UNMC is a vibrant organization that is always bringing up new leaders. The coaching initiative is expanding the skill set of faculty leaders to encourage their teams and colleagues to think independently," Dr. Liu said. "It's about asking questions, not just offering solutions. With the upcoming budget cuts, this skill set will be even more valuable to help teams navigate change."

Dr. Meyer believes learning about coaching as a leadership competency will help leaders maximize the talents and contributions of their team members to improve individual and collective performance.

"After going through the training myself, I have become more intentional in using coaching as a leadership competency. The training provided me with the knowledge and skills to help my team members more effectively clarify issues, as well as the skills to guide them in discovering their own best action steps to address the issues," Dr. Meyer said.

Speaking to the success of the workshops, Dr. Guthmiller said, "The College of Dentistry leaders felt the session was extremely worthwhile. It gave them dedicated time to think about leadership and professional growth and has already inspired them to introduce coaching into their everyday lives."

The coaching training was facilitated by Rob Kramer, a certified coach specializing in executive coaching.

"Coaching is a unique skill set that requires a growth mindset and a commitment to thinking broader than the typical well-honed 'fix it' practices of many health care providers," said Linda Love, Ed.D., director of faculty development. "It is an art that requires intentional practice."

To maximize this momentum, beginning this summer, three additional virtual coaching sessions are planned to help faculty and leaders to continue to fine-tune their practice of inquiry and help foster the success of UNMC's rich pool of talent.

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