No matter where you are in your leadership development, developing a “coaching” relationship with your team is one of the most meaningful things you can do. Leaders who coach understand that they have the biggest impact, not by doing the most, but by inspiring and motivating others.
Studies have shown that failure to have a coaching approach is one of the biggest reasons why performance development fails. And a study conducted by Bersin concluded that leaders who coach frequently improve business results by as much as 21 percent.
Coaching is impactful because it connects each individual’s professional development goals with the goals of the organization. Coaching at its best is skill that great leaders use daily, both informally and formally. Some approaches to develop a “coaching” approach in your daily leadership:
Use curiosity and ask questions. Coaching is not directive, but uses meaningful, open questions to understand how your team thinks, and coaching them to think through new approaches rather than giving them your solutions.
Great leaders know that listening can be as powerful as asking questions. Actively listening – and tuning into energy, emotions as well as non-verbal cues-- is a powerful way of gaining deeper understanding and trust.
Coaches focus on the individual’s learning and development not just organizational results. They understand that the best results come when individuals are learning and meaningfully engaged by the work. When their skills and strengths are aligned with the needs of the team and organization, they feel purpose and connection to the big picture. An interest in your team’s long-term development also creates a reserve of trust and loyalty when you need them to step up to more difficult parts of the job.
Build an individual relationship with each person. A great coach understands, with each person on their team, how to best motivate and inspire, provide critical feedback and help them learn.
Coaching takes into account the whole person. No employee is able to shut off their personal life from their work life, and what is happening outside the work environment may be important to that individual’s effectiveness. Great coaches consider the whole person and build a relationship that goes beyond the work environment.
Bill Walsh, the coach of coach of three Super Bowl-winning 1980s San Francisco 49ers football team, had this to say about coaching: “You are actually striving for two things at the same time: an organization where people understand the importance of their jobs and are committed to living within the confines of those jobs and to taking direction, and an organization where people feel creative and adaptive and are willing to change their minds without feeling threatened. It is a tough combination to achieve. But it’s also the ultimate in management.”