Lead Like a Coach

Coaching is helping people to learn as they work and nudging them as they think out solutions, wrestle with issues, discover ways of doing things and face challenges. Of course, there is also the red faced howling hockey coach style of yesteryear but maybe we've passed that! Today's leaders often talk about coaching but the truth of the matter is many don't really want to share with others what they consider their own competitive advantage. And, of course, others haven't a clue as to why they have been successful as they are as introspective as a flashlight. Coaching helps the coach too. Makes you think a bit and ask some questions about your own performance. But beyond this, you build stronger persons in your organization with competencies needed in the job as well as the capacity to take responsibility. And there is no delay between the "nudge" and the application. It's all applied and hands on...the best of learning. Mind you, if each time they face a problem, they go to you for solutions, they will develop a dependency that will just cripple their own growth! So, how do you coach them so soon they won't need you and learn to coach others?

Step 1

Let them think of solutions. Each time you get a question from a junior, counter with "What do you think? What do you propose we should do?"   "Any ideas?"   Some folks have always counted on others and just the idea that they can figure out a problem themselves may take the cork from the bottle.

Step 2

Push the decision making to them. Why not look at other data first? What if we take this route? Are there other alternatives that we might consider? These questions may take time but as they keep thinking these out, they develop the capacity to do them. Hopefully, when this competence is strong in them they no longer will bother you.

Step 3

Enable them to discover the tools. OK......if we follow that route, how do we go about it?" What will we need? Do we have those resources? If we don't have them in-house, where can we get them? Sometimes, because of lack of practice and experience, people don't see where ideas lead. They don't think laterally, vertically or across disciplines.

Step 4

Keep them motivated. Leaders delegate tasks and responsibilities to people recognizing their capabilities to make a go of it. And when they do, they are recognized. As people get engaged and learn how much they can contribute, they get motivated. Making them see clearly what they can contribute to the team's success is the task of the coach. If team members see how important their contribution is to the team, they will be there to give their best.

Step 5

Build confidence. Often, people are not sure of their capabilities until someone recognizes these. They do not want to take on responsibilities because of their fear of failure. In many organizations, the fear of failure is so strong that people just limit their contribution to what exactly is expected which is often just the minimum requirements. Once they gain confidence, even they will surprise themselves at what they can do. The person who is able to do this to several others in the organization is indeed a leader.

Step 6

Encourage them to be the best they can be. As you build people up, you get to see clearly their strengths and weaknesses. It is always good to play up the strengths especially when you have deadlines and commitments.  But when there is an opportunity, it is always good to help people mitigate the adverse effects of their weaknesses if they are not able to do something about it. Remember, coaching happens during the activity, not afterwards. Try to influence outcomes. Post hoc analysis is also important, but it's another tool.

The more you do this, the stronger you become as a persona and the wider will your influence be. Share what you know and build people up. This is how you build yourself. Hey...and don't make a big office show of your coaching...do it quietly over in a corner. What goes around comes around...trust it.


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