There are many important roles leaders play today. Coaching is one of the most important tools in an organization for increased productivity.
Coaching has always been challenging. As team members move into leadership, we naturally expect by virtue of their new title, they know what good coaching is, how important it is and how to implement it.
Leadership coaching is complex because it does not occur just once. Rather, coaching is an essential ongoing, career development process. Leaders should continuously provide team members with tools ensuring their career development, professional growth and success.
Good coaching teaches the importance of critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration, flexibility, transparency and accountability.
“Management Coaching is turning your managers and leaders into coaches to coach themselves and their staff.”Source: 1 to 1 Coaching School
Coaching instills confidence in team members to build upon their skills. A coach encourages team members to take appropriate action to do what they know is “the right thing to do” without requiring permission.
Each team member brings their own skillsets, strengths and areas of expertise. Coaching ensures team members become productive and are prepared for unforeseen challenges.
Leaders actions, words and behaviors, when responding to team member challenges and opportunities, set a standard for the entire team. It is important leaders’ responses instill confidence in the team and encourage their ideas.
Leaders maximize team member potential when they put their teams in a position to succeed, surround them with support, and help them develop new skills. Great leaders foster open, honest relationships with team members.
Below are some actionable items you can implement:
Make the time to provide prompt feedback on team member performance. Team members want to know how they’re viewed, what they’re doing well, and what they need to improve upon. Use one-on-one meetings to regularly provide feedback, and don’t hesitate to engage team members outside of formal gatherings.
Encourage collaborative, give-and-take feedback. Create an on-going dialogue where every team member has a voice and is encouraged to provide their thoughts and insights. The only thing we as leaders can do wrong is not to challenge conventional wisdom. If a team member has a counter-idea or know something being said is not quite correct, we need to have a healthy discussion as a way for the team to rise and become better.
This premise means all team members are safe to voice any opinion, in a non-threatening way, as they wish. Many organizations simply don’t operate this way, because leadership may feel threatened with honest and direct team member interaction.
Gently nudge team members outside of their comfort zones, taking care not to push them over the edge.
Identify team members’ skills and expertise, then provide the tools and guidance, so they may expand each and reach their true potential. Identifying skills and expertise doesn’t have to be about defining their job description. Collaboratively identifying team member strengths and skills validates team member thoughts and input. This exercise builds self-esteem and encourages team members to remain engaged and invested in their work. Encourage and challenge team members to use their skills to their fullest potential in their growth. Bored team members are much more likely to disengage.
Listening and encouraging team members to bring forth new ideas is an essential part of coaching. Listening encourages and builds team member confidence. Follow listening with action and change to show team members their ideas and opinions are respected and valued. Seeing the tangible results of their implemented ideas leads to increased engagement, helps team members understand the value they’re bringing to the organization and instills greater confidence.
Team members have different backgrounds, varying personalities, strengths, and weaknesses. Frequent, cross-team collaboration and interaction exposes team members to other perspectives, skills and approaches, creating an improved work environment, and helps them become more adaptable and flexible.
Team Members aren’t the only ones who can learn from each other; leaders can as well. Keep an open mind during conversations and frequently obtain new ideas or tactics from team members. Again, simply asking for feedback creates an open dialogue and gives team members an important voice, making the workplace feel like a democracy instead of a dictatorship.
It is critical, as you coach and provide team member feedback, to build team member confidence. Recognizing team members’ strong performance and extra effort helps boosts their confidence and sets them up for success. An important role of leadership is to recognize team members when they succeed. Even a simple thank-you, food, beverage, or recognition during a team meeting goes a long way with teams and individuals.
Be aware, though, recognition is team-member dependent. Some team members don’t like public praise. Some need to receive praise often, though privately; others like public adulation. Some very self-confident individuals rarely, if ever, want or need praise. They know when they’re doing well. Leaders must know the individuals on their teams and provide praise to best suit the needs of each team member.
When an assignment is not proceeding as expected, do not be tempted to step in and take over. This behavior diminishes confidence and morale.
Team members learn through trial and error. Assignments don’t always go according to plans. Offer guidance on how to best manage the situation. Continuous improvement is the long game.
Delegation is an important piece of building team member confidence. Clearly explain the project’s goals and objectives along with any required deliverables and timeframes, and then allow team members to determine the best approach for their assignment and get out of their way. Work with the individual to establish regular checkpoints to keep you informed of their progress and ensure they come to you if they encounter roadblocks or need guidance. Some team members will need more checkpoints or guidance than others. Trust their judgement.
Work with team members to develop collaborative and meaningful goals. Team members want and deserve an active role in furthering their careers and professional growth and development. Good coaches actively encourage and search for ways to help their team members. It is leadership’s role, with individual contributors, to ask them how things are going, is there anything you can help with, are there any roadblocks they need help moving, etc. Encourage team members, with an open-door policy, to come to you with their questions, challenges and concerns. Ensure they know you’re there to help and feel comfortable asking for advice and/or assistance.
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