10 Steps to Becoming a Coaching Leader
Coaching is the future of leading people. This is one of the central messages for leaders in my book Culture Solution. This is an invitation for us all to become coaching leaders.
Coaching is the most effective way to achieve all our personal and business goals. Here are ten coaching tips to keep in mind as you embark on this incredibly rewarding journey:
1. BE HONEST. Don’t hold back. Be honest with people. Tell them the good, the bad, and the ugly – then remind them of the good again. People need and deserve to know exactly where they stand. Honesty is the most admired quality in a leader. Be candid and kind, be direct, and stick to the facts.
2. PRIORITY. Make your coaching sessions a priority. Don’t blow them off, and don’t let the participant blow them off. Coaching is your #1 priority as a leader.
3. CONNECT. Begin by establishing a connection. Allow them to know who you really are as a person. Share what’s important to you. Not all at once, but little by little over time. And above all communicate that you have the person’s best interest at heart – that you want to help them grow and succeed. Do it naturally. Talk about what you did or are going to do on the weekend. Favorite foods, teams you follow, what you are reading.
4. PREPARE. Make sure you know before the meeting exactly what you want them to work on, or how you want them to grow and improve. This matters regardless of how long or short the meeting is; it could be five minutes or an hour. If you don’t give them something to work on you
are telling them that you are 100% satisfied with everything they do and there is no way for them to improve.
5. WHAT AND WHY. Coaching allows you to teach the why, not just the what. Leaders often have to ask people to do things, but don’t have the time to explain why that task or project matters. Coaching allows you to explain the why. This helps raise up future strategic leaders, because the strategy is usually locked up in the why. It also passes on valuable institutional knowledge. Get beyond tasks and instructions, and really help people understand why we do things, and why we do them a certain way. Understanding the why allows people to make mission king more than ever before, and inspires them to commit to that mission more than ever before.
6. ASK. Get really good at asking questions; the very best coaches use questions to teach powerfully. Don’t tell them everything. Allow them to propose and initiate the solution. Ask questions that lead them to where they need to go and allow them to figure it out for themselves. A great question to start each session with is: What are you hoping to get out of this session today? or What would be most helpful for us to work on today?
7. LISTEN. Don’t do all the talking. Great coaches are really good listeners.
8. FEEDBACK. Invite your participant to give you feedback. Don’t take it personally. Ego is the enemy of coachability. If it is good feedback, live it. Thank them for the feedback, more than once. It is extremely uncomfortable for people to give their boss feedback.
9. ENCOURAGE. I’m good at what I do. My books have sold more than thirty-five million copies, but there are still days when I am filled with self-doubt when I sit down to write. We never outgrow the need to be encouraged. So be sure to take every chance you get to encourage your team members.
10. GIFT. Coaching is an incredible gift. Let those you coach know that this will serve them well not just at work, but in every area of their lives – and not just now at this organization, but for the rest of their lives wherever they go. Don’t be embarrassed to say that you are intentionally investing in them with the hope that they will invest in others to help them grow.
Dynamic Cultures are coaching cultures. Nothing will more radically increase employee engagement than coaching.
What is a coaching culture? It’s a culture were coaching is a natural and normal part of every day. It is an organization where coaching is encouraged, desired, contagious and celebrated. A culture of coaching is a culture of excellence.
When you are actively coaching your people, mediocrity has nowhere to hide. When you stop relying on hearsay to lead your team, a disengaged employee cannot hide behind the rest of the team’s work. Coaching makes you aware of things you would never be aware of otherwise.
There is simply no other way to really understand your people and what they are capable of contributing.
Coaching leads to excellence. If we want our people to be excellent, coaching is a natural next step. We cannot reasonably expect our people to grow if we do not coach them.
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