How To Get Coaching Right (And Why Your Coaching Toolkit Matters)

I hear it a lot that leaders wish they had more time to coach their team, which often means their fall-back position is to tell vs teach.

Some leaders (although they wouldn’t admit it) actually like it that way. I’ve been working with Helen who loved being in control, knowing the detail of what’s going in her team, and feeling valued through always knowing the right answer. She realised she’d taught her team to be dependent on her and saw the impact it was having on team results.

People want to be empowered. People are desperate for effective feedback so they can develop skills and build confidence.

What’s your ratio of answers given to questions asked?

“In one study, executive coaching at Booz Allen Hamilton returned $7.90 for every $1 the firm spent on coaching.” ― MetrixGlobal LLC

The best leaders know how to get the most out of people; they enable the full potential in others. Good leader coaches identify and appreciate the strengths and differences that each person brings to the table and knows how to put them to full use. Doing this well requires:

  • Knowing what someone wants to engage in
  • Understanding what someone is ready for
  • Collaborating on stretch goals and setting the expectations for what success looks like
  • Knowing when to demonstrate or coach or mentor; because the conversations are really different.

Building your coaching toolkit is one of the fastest ways to improve your team performance. Enabling your team to think critically and creatively, take the initiative, and take risks will enable them to get out of their comfort zone, and have the ability to make the most out of every situation. Learning on the job is the best way to learn.

Essential skills every leader needs to have in their coaching toolkit

1. Ask powerful questions

By asking open ended questions, you give others an empowering opportunity to find answers within themselves. When you question for exploration, you reinforce in their minds that you believe in them and that their opinions, knowledge, and experience are worthwhile. You build their confidence.

2. Listen with Curiosity, not judgement

This means conveying a genuine interest in what others are saying. All too often we listen with impatience and a lack of attentiveness. Like when we’re focused on our next thing to say or our own agenda. Coaching involves listening, putting yourself in the shoes of someone else, and not interrupting along the way.

3. Build trust

Good relationships depend on trust. Leader coaches develop trust by letting others see them for who they really are, being unconditionally constructive in their communications, and demonstrating genuine interest in other people.

4. Be encouraging and supporting

Encouraging and supporting when coaching can be the difference between someone keeping going or giving up. Acknowledging another person is an incredibly powerful way of keeping them motivated.

5. Be constructively challenging

Challenging constructively is about calling it as it is as well as holding the space for someone in a way that shakes and shapes their thinking and perspectives outside their comfort zone. Coaching is about creating change. It’s much more than a ‘feel good’ conversation.

6. Manage your own emotional state

Mistakes happen – it’s how people learn. How you recover the situation calmly and with the involvement of the person who made the mistake matters. You need to be skilled at providing effective feedback that can engage someone in.

Bringing it all together

Coaching provides a concrete roadmap for what your reports are trying to achieve and how they can succeed. Ultimately, people will remember you for who you were and the difference you made for them, not the results achieved.

What return would an incremental gain in your productivity, invested in time spent upskilling your reports, have on your team engagement and performance say over the next 12 months?

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