“How can I get my leaders to do a better job coaching their teams?”
That’s a question I frequently field from the executives and HR partners I support. I hope you’ve asked that question for yourself as well, because it means developing your team is high on your radar. I’ve shared the key skills of coaching as well as my favorite coaching conversational model GROW. That said, a new question arises, which is when should you coach and when shouldn’t you?
If you get this question wrong, you’re likely to either confuse your team or neglect to use your coaching skills to their maximum effectiveness. But if you get it right, you’ll grow as a coach and so will your employees.
Here are three situations when you should not coach and five situations when you should.
How do people learn to be leaders?
That’s the question leadership consultant and thought leader Robert J. Thomas answered at a leadership academy event I recently helped organize. Speaking from his book Crucibles of Leadership, Thomas demonstrated that simply taking a course on leadership would do little to transform leadership abilities. In fact, knowledge plays only a small role in a leader’s effectiveness, despite the high price often invested in higher education.
Here is a sample of the elements that transform ordinary people into great leaders.
We hear so much about coaching these days. Leaders need to coach more. Employees need more coaching. High performers need coaching. Low performers need coaching. As leaders, how can we know we’ve done enough? And what does a quality coaching conversation actually look like in action?
Over the years, I’ve adopted a simple definition of coaching: “To coach is to develop another person by listening and asking questions to clarify ideas and commit to action.”
If you look closely, you’ll notice five key characteristics. I’ve listed each of them out below:
Congratulations – you’ve just been selected to participate in a corporate mentoring program. Or maybe you took the initiative and enlisted a mentor yourself. Or perhaps, a seasoned pro has begun to formally or informally take you under his wing. Whatever the case, way to go!
Now comes the tricky part: what should you get mentoring for?
One of the difficult parts of entering a new mentoring partnership – especially for first-time mentees – can be deciding what exactly to invest a mentoring relationship toward. On one hand, it’s great to have a partner committed to your development. On the other hand, it’s hard to know where to start.
As a University of Kansas basketball fan, I’ve never rooted for Duke. But there is a Duke moment that stands out in my memory. It occurred probably 10 or 15 years ago. Duke was in the process of getting upset in the NCAA Tournament. They were playing hard that day but not well. Near the end of the game, the senior star player fouled out, highlighting the frustrating day for everyone. As he exited the floor for the last time as a college athlete, he headed straight for Coach Mike Krzyzewski with tears streaming down his face and the two shared a prolonged embrace.
My first thought was that Coach K must have really messed up his black suit hugging a really sweaty guy (probably a sign that I’d make a terrible basketball coach). The second was how evident the bond between the leader and the followers was that day. It wasn’t an expression of victory, but one of commitment.
“Coaching” has been trending corporate buzzword in organizational leadership for well over a decade. We’re all familiar with athletics coaches. But when someone asks us to coach someone to learn a new skill or solve problem, it’s usually in a professional work context. What do coaches actually do – or do differently?
The interesting thing about coaching is how dynamic of a leadership role it is. Supervisors can coach. Mentors can coach. Peers can coach. Executive coaches can coach (obviously). Just about anyone can coach at one time or another.
Whether you have the opportunity to be coached or to be a coach, let’s take a look at six things coaching leaders do that set them apart.
What if I told you you don’t need to have a solution for every single problem that comes your way in order to be a competent and mature leader? Well that’s exactly what I’m about to propose. Hopefully it’s as refreshing to you as it is to me. And the best part about it is that it can dramatically improve your leadership influence as well. The alternative to responding with advice? Asking great questions.
Zig Ziglar once said that “a goal properly set is halfway reached.” I don’t know about you, but I always figured if I could get a 50% head start in anything, I’d take it! Of course it can take a lot of effort to slug through the dog days of execution, especially if your goal is to run a marathon or something tough and long-term like that. But the greater battle is usually for clarity at the onset.
So how do you get clarity when it comes to goal-setting?
You’ve probably heard about SMART goals before. If you haven’t, this little model could change your life. If you have, it’ll be a good refresher. Here are the steps to transforming regular, ordinary goals into SMART goals.
Have you ever had a coach, teacher, or mentor in your formative years who pushed you to be more than you thought you could become on your own? If so, you’ll strongly appreciate this month’s leadership profile featuring my high school football coach, Dick Burton – even if you’ve never been an athlete.
Have you ever considered hiring a leadership coach? Do you know someone who has a coach? Contrary to popular opinion, coaches are not just a luxury service for the rich and famous (as one of my past clients once believed). Writers hire writing coaches, speakers hire speaking coaches, actors hire acting coaches, and quarterbacks hire quarterback coaches. Why should leaders be any different?
Many leaders hire a coach when they want to gain clarity, explore future opportunities, form an action plan, or resolve a leadership challenge. They share conversations either on a regular or intermittent basis. Coaches are champions of the clients’ vision. But coaches aren’t saviors. Let’s take a look at some of the things a coach won’t do for you.
In recent years, we’ve seen a new emphasis placed on the art of listening. It can’t be because listening is all of a sudden more important than it ever was before. Maybe the nature of work in the information age means the the cost of misunderstanding is higher. Or perhaps the experts have been burned by poor listening one too many times and decided to produce more thought leadership on the topic.
At any rate, study after study demonstrates the importance of listening to communication, leadership and influence. We are apparently able to listen about three times faster than we can speak, but we also forget most of what we’ve heard. Listening been identified as one of the top qualities employers seek. And the ability to listen well has been tied to the ability to lead. Leadership is impossible without communication and communication is impossible without listening.
Everyone wants to be hired, to lead well and to understood. So how can we learn to listen more effectively? The first step is to distinguish between the various listening levels that exist. Here are five of the most common ones: