People love coaches. Think of the numerous films and shows that tell the story of a great coach acting as the North Star that guides the team or individual to the initially improbable victory. On a personal level, you may have had a coach in your academic career or hobby that left a lasting impact on you.
Coaches are great and the coaching style certainly has its place in your leadership toolbox. While coaching can be fun, it can be a little different than what is portrayed in the movies that we love.
What is Coaching and when do you use this style?
Coaching is for people who have shown some competence and capability in their role and their commitment level to the organization continues to strengthen. The associate is not totally confident in all that they do, but they are getting there.
Just like directing, coaching is a very leader-driven stage. Coaching is less telling like in the Directing Stage and is instead more suggesting. Instead of giving all the answers to the person, you are instead offering multiple paths and letting the person think through the best course of action.
Coaching is also a great stage to begin leading by answering questions with another question. Let’s say a person comes to you and asks a question about billing. Instead of giving them the answer you may reply with, “How do you think we should handle the situation?” While coaching in this way takes longer in the moment, it has a high level of payoff because the associate will start thinking through challenges themselves and become proactive in finding an answer.
Why is Coaching an important part of your overall leadership?
Coaching is a critical stage to ensure that the associate continues to show growth and development, and it’s also a critical juncture in determining their likelihood of sticking around on your team.
While we talked about the importance of directing last week, once the person gains enough knowledge to do the job on their own for the most part, they may feel like your directing style is micromanaging them. Feeling micromanaged can lead to disengagement while their commitment to the organization is still forming. This combination can lead to losing good people that should have stayed on the team.
It’s important to switch to this style of leadership as they gain a bit of confidence and knowledge. You’ll begin to expand your leadership to building a trusting personal relationship with the person, and while you are still highly involved with the person, it’s a little less than in the directing stage, which means you are starting to get some of your time back to do other things.
What are some of the cautions of Coaching?
The main caution of coaching is that some people get to this stage and don’t want to leave. The person may have a great relationship with you and thoroughly enjoy all the time that you spend together as you coach them. It’s tempting for you as a leader too. In fact, many leaders think of themselves as “coaches” of their teams.
Be willing to continue to push for personal and professional growth as you invest in your team.
Associates at this level are really starting to come into their own and are beginning to show their potential to be great in the role and contribute in a larger way. Recognize that they have made progress and spend the time necessary with them so that you can develop them to the next leadership style of Supporting.
Make a better tomorrow.