Any good parent or good athletic coach is focused on enabling growth, achievement, and learning. If you think about personal relationships, the most successful are those where the spouse is supportive. This same type of coaching is what is needed of great leaders.
Let’s back up a step: What is coaching?
Great coaching is:
- Asking questions which enable people to make better decisions, solve more challenges on their own, and have better interpersonal relationships along the way. This all leads to productive work and goals being met.
- Having empathy, assuming that all people have the resources they need to be successful.
- Enabling people to step back and place a better frame around a situation, to look at it from a new perspective to imagine new possibilities.
When should you apply coaching?
There are many opportunities to apply coaching throughout the course of one’s management day. A crisis, career-development discussion, a decision to be made, confusing goals, or peer relationships issues are all good reasons to apply coaching. Coaching is not oriented towards solution giving, opinion giving, leading to manager’s personal agenda, or asking why something is not working. These approaches can cause a person to go backwards and not forward. Coaching behavior starts with having the person’s best interests at heart. Coaching is about working together keeping the focus on people and their needs.
Here are three important things every manager needs to know about coaching.
- Coaching takes time. Many managers prefer to manage in autocratic ways, barking orders and not listening well. Others just feel more comfortable micromanaging. This isn’t healthy for people of the organization or society. Adults are really just like children except we have bigger bodies. Children like to enjoy what they do, have good relationships, and be heard while having opportunities to express themselves. So do adults! Coaching does require more patience and more time. In spite of this, if we stand back and look at our world, our society, our sagging economy, we will see that a new type of leader is required now, a type of leader who is a great coach at the same time.
- Coaching focuses on positive feedback and not evaluation. Coaching requires daily communicating with followers, asking better questions, focusing more on what is working versus what is not working. When managers only focus on fixing problems, they find more problems and end up wasting time on low-priority problems which don’t need to be fixed. People aren’t broken: The systems which they work under are! Leaders strongly influence the behavior in the organization. Great coaches understand this.
- Coaching requires better questions. Here are three of them: As a result of reading this article, what steps might you take to better lead yourself and others? How might you start thinking differently about how you lead yourself and others? What specific action can you take today as a result of reading this article so you can role model great coaching?