To be a strong leader takes a compelling vision for not just the organization but also its people. Leaders need to be able to set goals with those they manage and follow up. In addition to this, to enable great things through people, it takes a softer side — a caring side.
That is what you call coaching.
Focused on enabling great results through people, coaching requires different skills than just leading and managing. These are the new pillars of enabling growth at work, internal motivation, and greater productivity. This is a combination of leadership, management, and coaching.
COACHING AS THE PATH TO LEADING OTHERS
Although managers would like to think differently, people don’t come to work with the company goals on their mind; neither do they think about how much money the company is making. People come to work concerned about themselves. People focus on deeper internal concerns like their own personal challenges at home, personal goals, their money pressures, and relationship problems. People come to work wondering if they will find support, opportunities to develop, and of course have interesting work to do.
THE GAP BETWEEN PERSONAL GOALS AND COMPANY GOALS
Organizational life by definition is not always like family. It is focused on making money, maintaining stability, and compliance. For some, it can feel like job prison, especially for those who don’t enjoy their work. Many people I meet don’t enjoy their work and aren’t as productive as they could be. I rarely meet people these days who are passionate about their work. One root cause may be that many work cultures treat their people like children demanding compliance. These same environments are filled with negative punitive terms such as probation, execution, verbal warning, performance management, 360-degree assessment, ranking and rating, etc. We need to move away from empty terms and the urge to rank and rate people, making them compete against one another at work. We must resist the urge to develop categories of people: good performers, bad performers, fast trackers, high potential, talent, and other management related empty terms.
When people are forced to compete, we end up with winners and losers. There is no reason for punishment at work, unless, of course, someone breaks the law!
As a result, people often don’t go out of their way to take risks, offer new ideas, be creative, or show courage at the office. People don’t feel like being punished if they make mistakes or if their ideas will not be appreciated.
Sadly, this is the opposite of what managers need from their people to do at work. We need people rocking the boat and challenging the status quo when they feel it is necessary.
But, how exactly do we enable people to do this to advance both their own development and the goals of the organization? After many years of managing and leading people, I know that this is the challenge. So the most important question to ask is how to make work more human, more joyful, and, at the same time, enable people to achieve their goals while helping to advance the goals of the organization?
A NEW LEADERSHIP APPROACH
The carrot and stick approach doesn’t work if we want people to accomplish great things at work.
We need a new approach: a humanistic approach which places people over profit.
This doesn’t need to make stockholders turn in their sleep. Placing an emphasis on the person at work as the center will not only make work more enjoyable, which is good for people and society, it also will enable people to achieve more and this creates more profit.
I like to advise people who want to go into management that they should enjoy being a teacher. A great teacher, like a great coach, has both the developmental interests of people and the organizational goals in mind. This approach places the emphasis on people, unlike outdated management theories of one-way monitoring (scientific management) and reward and punishment (behaviorism). This enables joyful and productive work in the long term. This doesn’t mean making more money, a corner office, or better job title.
It is about whether a person feels valued at work and has trusted and open relationships.
And more important, this approach enables people to see the bigger picture: a connection of a vision of the organization and their own life.
So how do you become a great coach? Part II of this series will explain three keys to great coaching that every manager should know.