CIHRM’s approach to leadership development is coaching – or “sparring” as we like to call it. This is a one-on-one relationship to help someone become a more effective leader. Coaching is unlocking a leader’s potential to maximise their own development, performance and impact. It has a focus on the present and the future, and is a complete partnership between the coach and the coachee. It views the coachee as a whole (not as broken and needing fixing), resourceful, and able to find their own answers and solutions. The process identifies major strengths and areas for learning and growth, and improvement actions than can be taken. 

Our relationship with the organisation to which the leader being coached belongs usually takes two forms:

  1. Extensive and transparent communication between the leader being coached, their boss, the organisations HR leader, and the coach.
  2. The relationship between the leader being coached and the coach is strictly private and confidential.


The process identifies major strengths and major areas for learning and growth – and improvement actions than can be taken. CIRHM practices a four-step process: 

When CIHRM is asked to take on a coaching assignment, we immediately start to work on which member of the team will add most value to the coachee. This is called the matching process and is regarded as very important for the relationship between the coachees and the coach and the overall outcome of the coaching process. Sometimes the coachee knows very well what type of coach they are looking for – sometimes more discussions are need. When the matching is completed – we can start the work.

This step includes a mapping of the challenges and issues the leader to be coached wants to reflect upon and discuss. Sometimes this includes an assessment of the leader to be coached. Supervisors, colleagues, direct reports, and customers are often called upon to provide input to the coaching process. A clear, dynamic plan is developed and agreed.

The coaching process usually takes six to 12 months and includes regular contact between the leader and the coach – in person, through e-mail, and over the phone. The in-person coaching sessions usually take place once a month and have the following structure;

Preparation: the leader sends the coach a list of challenges and issues they want to reflect upon and discuss a couple of days before the session takes place. This gives the coach time to prepare and provides focus for the session.

The coaching session: this usually takes around two hours at a location that is convenient.

Reflection: the coach writes a brief memo reflecting on the coaching session. This provides additional input to the leader, as well as a record of the session. This brief memo is often discussed at the start of the next session.

This step involves an in-depth discussion of lessons learned, overall outcomes and the process. The leader being coached will often want to continue the coaching process after the first phase and a new plan is developed and agreed.