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Coaching and Leadership

The more you mature in leadership, the more you realize it’s not about you. It’s about the performance of your team and the organization. Because of this, you begin to realize that to achieve critical results and remain competitive and relevant, coaching becomes a critical skill for the leader. Employees are a treasure chest of talent. The managers must invest time and energy to help them develop their capacities in the ways that will contribute most to both individual and organizational success.No skill is more important for the future of a business than coaching. Getting employees to the place where they can actually lead themselves requires proper coaching. The goals to do so can be broken down into four main areas:Honest Dialogue and Truthful Feedback. Nothing is as impacting as one-on-one communication. Giving feedback is vital to improve performance and the company’s bottom line.Leaders must genuinely listen and collaborate with employees on solutions to issues. They must work with an employee’s personality and needs to provide motivation for the best work and fulfillment.Recognition of Accomplishment. If you do well in sports, you win something. Everyone knows this. Millions wouldn’t buy tickets to games or go see sports-related movies if there wasn’t a payoff in the end.Smart leaders in every field offer incentives to employees who accomplish agreed-upon goals. This can range from bonus pay to gift cards and prime parking spots, but it’s important that the process be transparent, simple, and fair.Finding Talent in Others. Another key component to good coaching is identifying talents in others and leveraging them to help both the company and the employee be better. Finding and developing talent is one of the most important jobs a leader takes on. The future of the organization depends on it.Creating a Motivational Workplace. The bottom line for most employees is that they want to use their abilities to the fullest, connect with coworkers, and achieve a level of autonomy so they can direct their own efforts. Providing a workplace that can help employees achieve those goals is an important part of coaching. But doing so requires focused, intelligent effort that creates job satisfaction, trust, learning opportunities, and the freedom to be creative.Focusing on these issues can lead to better coaching within your workplace, and a motivated, satisfied staff. Nothing else a leader does has such a lasting impact.Coaching, however, generally seems to be difficult for most people to do well consistently. Employees often have to ask for the coaching they do get, and most disappointing, they don’t always benefit from the coaching they receive.Lack of confidence is often an obstacle. Only 46% of leaders in recent research rated themselves as extremely or very effective at coaching or developing their people.Overemphasis on systems to assess and manage instead of coaching conversations is another common downfall. People don’t usually want to be “managed” or moved like chess pieces without considering their career aspirations or personal needs.What makes a difference in coaching?Setting expectations and holding managers accountable. We need to put teeth into our employee development processes. Leaders must be held accountable to develop their people. Too many leaders are tasked with and rewarded for so manyindividual contributions that it is foolish to expect that they will put coaching very high on their to-do lists.Willingness to get up close and personal makes a difference. Since every person is motivated by a unique set of personal values, talents, and goals, it comes down to the quality of personal relationships. Leaders need to establish unique coaching partnerships with each member of their team. We achieve results primarily through relationships.Coaching does demand priority time and effort. Those who give coaching an important place in their schedule and reap the results do it because . . .

  • They see coaching as an essential tool for achieving business goals. They are not coaching their people because they are nice, they see personal involvement in the development of talent as an essential activity for business success. Most leaders will tell you they don’t have the time to coach. However, time isn’t a problem if you think coaching is a “must have” rather than a “nice to have.”

  • They enjoy helping people develop. They are like artists. They assume the people who work for them don’t necessarily show up ready to do the job but that they will need to learn and grow to fulfill their role and adapt to changing circumstances. Coaching managers see this as an essential part of their job. They believe this is not a special favor to a few people but what everyone merits.

  • They are curious. Coaching leaders ask a lot of questions. They are genuinely interested in finding out more about how things are going, what kinds of problems people are running into, where the gaps and opportunities are, and what needs to be done better. Curiosity facilitates the coaching dialogue, the give-and-take between coach and learner in which the learner freely shares his or her perceptions, doubts, mistakes, and successes so that together they reflect on what’s happening.

  • They are interested in establishing connections. Their empathy allows the leader to build an understanding of what each employee needs, and appropriately adjusts his or her style. A trusting, connected relationship helps leaders gauge how to approach an employee.

Truth is, all of life is relationships. You never know when the opportunity will present itself for you to step in and be a coach to someone else and help them develop. Whenever there is a conversation, a teachable moment may arise. Share, ask, listen. Be in communication, believe in them, and do what you can to help that person be their very best.

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