Yesterday’s post talked about the coaching mistakes that leaders can make and how to learn from them to improve their leadership. The speed at which things are happening now is so fast, that it a challenge for leaders to stay on top of everything. Sure it would be really simple to just tell your team what to do and then have them go do it. However, that will prevent them from being able to learn how to lead, problem solve and make their own decisions. Unless you teach them these skills, they will always be reliant on you. This doesn’t demonstrate that you can build a strong team and it prevents you from being able to focus on what you need to as a leader. It takes time away from you being able to manage up, be strategic and build key relationships which are necessary to keep things moving forward for your team.
Building the skills your team needs to be successful takes time on your part. Lee Iacocca said “The speed of the leader is the speed of the team.” You are reliant on getting things done through your team, therefore you can only accomplish as much as your team can do. You cannot do everything yourself and you need to empower the team to take the lead on things. Leaders who coach are focused on building the skills in their team that are needed for them to be successful future leaders.
Here are some simple ways to build coaching into your everyday conversations with your team members:
- Set the vision and let them execute
- Your role is to set the vision, guide and coach them. They figure out how to get it accomplished. It would be easy to tell them what to do because you have more experience. What if the leaders you worked for in the past only told you what to do? Would you be where you are now?
- You need to let them try things, figure out new approaches and be there to support them.
- Create a culture where failures that occur become learning opportunities for growth.
- Leverage your Curiosity
- Pretend you don’t know all the information by asking questions. Be curious and limit your assumptions. You will learn a lot more about how things are going by letting the team respond. Ensure your questions are open ended and allow for them to fill in the blanks.
- Shorter questions are the best way to get information. Try using “Tell me more about that? or What challenges are you facing right now?”
- You can also offer your support by asking things like “How can I best support you?”
- Listen Intently
- What are they telling you and what are they leaving out? The tendency is to always give your leader the good news and minimize the bad news. Your role as the leader is to get the whole story. You need to make it okay for them to give you both sides of the story.
- Setting expectations for honesty will make it ‘safe’ for them to do this consistently and you won’t be blindsided later on. They need to know that you will be there to support them when things are going well, but also when things are off track.
- Celebrate Accomplishments
- Your role as the leader is to provide the high level perspective. It can be easy to only focus on the next thing to do without taking the time to celebrate what has already been done. This is something that many driven leaders tend to bypass because they are always looking ahead.
- These are opportunities to recognize team members and celebrate how much progress has been done. Have fun and be creative with these opportunities. It will help your team feel appreciated, engaged and excited to be a part of your team.
Leveraging this style of leadership will make a huge difference for both you and your team. You will see people developing new skills and you will be building future successors for your role. Opportunities exist in every conversation to “coach” someone. This may in the form of a simple compliment, motivation for them or guidance on how to move forward when they are stuck. It requires you to be intentional in how you handle these conversations, but it will pay off with stronger, higher performing team members. I work with leaders every day to build these skills and becoming coaching leaders. If I can help you, just let me know.