Enhancing Leadership as Coaches to Foster Cohesive Teams
Based on a recent survey in Chief Learning Officer Magazine, coaching emerged as the most sought-after skill for front-line managers. This raises the question of what attributes define a good coach and how individuals can enhance their coaching abilities to progress in their careers.
In my role as a mentor to numerous knowledgeable individuals, including entrepreneurs, executives, career-changers, and keynote speakers, I find it valuable to examine and highlight the significant distinctions between managing and coaching. It is crucial to understand that coaching is the most essential skill for any leader to acquire to guarantee success in their career.
Are you looking to motivate your employees or give them instructions? Here’s an interesting fact to consider: According to Gallup, a staggering 86% of employees perceive their bosses as lacking inspiration.
Coaching, when implemented effectively, can lead to increased intrinsic motivation. This refers to the internal drive and enthusiasm to explore new ideas and make fresh discoveries. As stated by McKinsey, employees who experience higher levels of intrinsic motivation demonstrate 32% higher dedication to their work and 46% increased job satisfaction.
Coaching Your Employees: How It Differs From Traditional Employee Management
The distinction primarily arises from the emphasis placed on focus. When supervising an employee, the emphasis is on providing clear directions: specifying the tasks that need to be accomplished, outlining the preferred approach, and establishing the deadline for completion.
Being a directive manager poses a challenge because it establishes a “Mother May I?” syndrome where employees feel the need to seek approval from the manager before taking any action. This can be compared to the children’s game where no one could move unless they asked, “Mother, may I?”. Consequently, employees become reliant on the manager as the expert and constantly seek their guidance for even the smallest tasks. However, this puts a strain on the manager who becomes frustrated with the responsibility of having to provide all the answers. It also hampers efficiency when every little task requires the manager’s involvement. As a result, micromanagement becomes a recurring issue as employees are unable to proceed without the boss’s approval.
Coaching adopts a cooperative and empowering method, directing team members towards their resourcefulness and understanding. In contrast to training, which is driven by a predetermined curriculum and instructor, coaching emphasizes the client. By “client,” I mean anyone who plays a role in your success, including your team members, boss, shareholders, and even your spouse. This approach ensures a collaborative and personalised experience.
The coach adopts a different approach by encouraging the employee to identify and direct themselves towards areas that require improvement instead of simply providing information on processes, procedures, and tasks. This approach aims to bring awareness to blind spots and potential opportunities, allowing the employee to gain insight and facilitate behavioural changes. This emphasis on self-discovery and personal insight is crucial because, in my experience, unless individuals recognize something themselves, it does not hold validity. While directive management may achieve compliance, a more effective way to motivate and engage employees is by inspiring their hearts and minds through a different coaching approach.
Improving Your Coaching Skills
A skilled coach: Especially one focused on transformation and navigating change, possesses the ability to guide employees in the direction of innovation and fresh findings. However, managers may grow restless with this self-exploration approach, leading to an increase in micromanagement, a decline in collaboration, and a significant drop in employee engagement. To enhance your coaching abilities, both your team and yourself can join a coaching skills training virtually, in-person or in-house programme.
To enhance employee empowerment and improve overall organisational effectiveness: Managers must develop better listening skills. According to a Salesforce survey highlighted in Forbes, employees who believe their opinions are valued are 4.6 times more likely to feel empowered and motivated to perform at their best. While managers often prioritise giving instructions, it is essential to remember that listening plays a significant role in effective leadership. The Chief Learning Officer suggests that skilled coaches possess the ability to listen attentively at a deeper level. Imagine the positive impact on your team if they truly felt heard and understood. This doesn’t mean relinquishing control or allowing chaos to reign. However, being open to different perspectives can transform not only your mindset but also the overall success of the organisation.
Challenge Your Assumptions
Embrace Possibility: Each of us holds a unique perspective that shapes our perception of the world. This perspective, often referred to as a premise or point of view, influences our actions and can either propel us forward or hold us back. Coaches encourage individuals to question their assumptions, echoing the wise words of Nelson Mandela: “It always seems impossible until it’s done.” Throughout our lives, we encounter numerous situations that initially appear insurmountable, such as driving a car, getting married, or tying our shoelaces. However, in hindsight, we realise that these challenges were not as daunting as they seemed. A skilled coach practices self-leadership and recognizes that we all harbour limiting beliefs. Fortunately, when we objectively examine and understand these beliefs, a new perspective emerges—one that frees us from self-imposed constraints. Can you guide your team members in abandoning their limiting assumptions? Will they willingly embrace new behaviours and commit to personal growth? By fostering a sense of ownership within your team, you will pave the way for transformative results.
The concept of Safety and the importance of listening without judgment to employees and clients is a challenging aspect. Effective managers are often inclined to correct, fix, and change, but as a transformational coach, I have learned that constructive criticism is a misleading notion. Criticism only leads to defensiveness and does not foster a sense of safety that allows for open communication and exploration. Creating an environment that encourages the expression and exploration of ideas without fear of retribution, criticism, or correction is essential. If this kind of environment cannot be achieved within the team, seeking an objective outside resource, like a coach, can be beneficial in facilitating new perspectives. Both coaches and managers share similar goals but employ different approaches. By allowing clients to see new possibilities, new promises can emerge. Skilled coaches excel in creating a safe space for promoting new ideas, a role that cannot always be fulfilled by a manager.
Guiding employees is an essential aspect of maintaining hierarchical order. However, deviating from this chain does not result in chaos or catastrophe. Instead, it paves the way for liberation. This liberation grants leaders greater autonomy while empowering employees through effective coaching. Authentic motivation, the impetus to take action, arises solely from within an individual. To genuinely transform behaviours and instil heightened effectiveness, redirect your focus towards the true origins of this drive. By doing so, you will effectively coach yourself and your team, thereby yielding enhanced outcomes.