“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.
You’ve just been assigned to fix a problem or design a solution for an organization, department or team. Maybe you’ve been brought in as a consultant or joined a cross-functional task force. Regardless, management wants results. Where do you start?
Just like in medicine, the last thing a change practitioner should do is prescribe before diagnosing. You don’t want to “fix” the wrong problem. That usually just makes things worse and hurts your credibility.
So how do you diagnose an organization?
Why? It’s one of my all-time favorite questions. I’m told I asked my parents, “why?” over and over again as a kid and apparently I’ve never grown out of it. There’s no quicker way to cut to the heart of what’s most important, which is one of the greatest responsibilities leaders have. And I’m not the only one who thinks so. In his landmark book Getting Things Done, David Allen shares six distinct ways asking, “why?” adds value. They are too good to keep to myself, so I’ve listed them here below with my own short commentary.