As corporate leaders, we evaluate our employees and expect them to do the job up to our standards. Sometimes our standards are out of sync with their ability or training. After all, these individuals have not traveled in the same shoes as we have and may not have the skills or cognitive preparation to achieve what we expect. Therefore coaching becomes an integral part of helping employs grow to the next level.
In my experience, the most effective leaders shine when they are helping others day in and day out. This is where coaching enters the picture. Those corporate leaders who are really performing up to their capability (in a leadership capacity) are consistently coaching their colleagues (and not trying to micro-manage their activities). Individuals don’t appreciate being managed. But, they are more open to coaching if the coach immediately establishes his or her desire to help the individual meet established goals.
Coaches need to acquire or develop critical skills to really be effective as a coach. Don’t always think about coaching in terms of Bill Parcells, former coach for the New York Jets football team, who coached by yelling at his players. Instead, consider Joe Torres, the New York Yankees baseball manager who is able to work with each team member in a singular way and help the player achieve maximum performance.
The first and most important coaching skill is to be in the moment, not distracted by six different things on your mind. Coaching is about respect for each other. There is no more predictable way to show lack of respect as not being “present” or “engaged” during a conversation. I once had a boss whose eyes would become “fish eyes” during our conversations. Do you think I was being heard? Do you think I respected him?
Secondly, a good coach will seek to understand by asking open-ended questions. It is very difficult to understand what is going on in someone else’s head if we ask simple yes/no questions. Questions need to be open-ended so we fully understand the complexity of an individual’s state of mind.
A third critical skill is the need for the coach to suspend judgment and remain reflective and objective. Being contemplative shows that you understand the thoughts or feelings in the conversation. These first three skills will help develop understanding, balance, and respect—all very important ingredients in a successful coaching relationship.
The fourth critical skill is affirming the conversation. This action brings into focus the individual’s desire to move ahead, whether it’s an improvement in performance or learning new skills and growing as a professional or human being.
These skills, when practiced and used daily, will help you become the most effective leader imaginable.
Help your team grow. Be a coach not a boss!