MANAGERS who try to get things done by merely issuing orders to subordinates are a dying breed. Today, the focus is more on leading rather than managing, coaching rather than teaching or ordering.
Organisations recognise the value of developing a coaching culture where leaders engage and empower staff, who become self-motivated to strive for peak performance.
Yet, despite the fact that coaching is now seen as an essential skill to develop, many managers find it tough to make that shift to a coaching style of management. For some, old habits die hard. For others, it is a matter of self-preservation based on the mistaken belief that developing their staff may be detrimental to their own career success.
As discussed in last Thursday’s article, Develop A Coaching Culture, there are many reasons why a manager can benefit by being a coach. Once you buy into the idea, the next step is to understand the skills needed to become a powerful coach.
These fall into two broad areas:
1. The art of persuasion
One key attribute of leaders is the ability to influence. To be able to influence, you need to master the art of persuasion.
Persuasion is the ability to not only communicate effectively, but also to move the person to action. Moving people to action is fundamental to any coaching. If there is no action taken after the coaching, then it has been a waste of time for both coach and coachee.
To be persuasive, you need to first be good at building rapport. Only with rapport will people trust you and be willing to open their ears and hearts to what you say to them.
Here is a good way to assess if you have rapport with your staff or team members: Do you find silence descending as you walk into the office? What are the first words you say to your staff in the morning? A cheerful “Good morning!” or “Why are you late again?”
2. Coaching skills
Successful coaches help to improve performance by drawing out and developing the key strengths of the people they coach, and get them focused on their goals so they can achieve more. They do this mainly by questioning and observing, then looking for changes in behaviour that can lead to changes in performance.
To do this well, they need to be skilled in reading people’s body language, so they can discern what their coachees really feel about an issue versus what they say.
Coaches need to have a good understanding of the different personality types as well as what the motivating factors for each individual are. Most of this information can be derived from questioning, listening and observing.
Good coaches are adept at drawing out ideas from the people they coach, and helping them to see how these ideas could be turned into something practical.
The best motivation comes from within. Thus the coach’s role is to help uncover that motivating force and fan the fire until the person becomes unstoppable in moving towards his goals. By encouraging the person to take ownership of his ideas, action plan and results, he becomes self-motivated.
At the same time, the coach also helps people to manage obstacles and, in many cases, to reframe situations and circumstances that are stopping them from achieving their goals.
For example, a salesman may be hampered by his inability to close sales due to his fear of rejection. The coach can then help him reframe the situation to see that every “no” he receives is an opportunity for him to find out how he can be better. Every “no” is a valuable learning opportunity that he must treasure. So by simply asking himself the question: “What could I have done better?”, he can then reflect and learn from each experience.
After the person has a clear understanding of what’s stopping him from achieving his goals, the coach can then help the person to move on to develop a workable plan, list out the resources available to him and learn to leverage them.
In today’s competitive business environment, many managers may still be wary of their own staff and guard their power jealously — be it in the form of information or authority.
However, after many years in the corporate and business arena, I have found that true power comes when you have enough confidence to let go and empower your staff so they can move towards personal excellence.
More often than not, they will then look back at you with respect as a great leader. The satisfaction, I assure you, is immense.