Leadership coaching is the process of developing people’s skills and abilities to inspire growth within the members of an organization. Oftentimes managers find themselves needing balance between managing people and creating an environment where team members can grow and flourish. In every organization there will be areas for improvement. A good leader will have the skills needed to navigate such issues with direction and support resulting in a more effective team. This is different from the typical training managers provide as each coaching session is typically done in a one-on-one fashion and tailored to each employees’ individual needs, goals, and progress.
To become a successful coach, it’s important to step back and remember that each person has a separate set of strengths, moderate skills, weaknesses, and individual goals. When keeping those pieces in mind, a successful coach will work to build a relationship with each member of their team that stems from clearly established boundaries and trust. This trust is earned from clear, concise learning objectives, showing good judgement, having patience, and reliable follow-through. Once a relationship has been built, it becomes easier for the coach to assess each team member individually and determine areas where support, growth opportunities, and focus should stem. In asking pointed open-ended questions during a coaching session, a good manager can help an employee self-identify areas for potential development and growth as well as weakness. Once these areas have been disclosed, follow-up questions can help the employee self-actualize a plan of attack for improving in these personal and pinpointed problem areas. A push for alternative solutions and reasonable-risk taking (i.e. stepping outside of one’s comfort zone to attempt a new approach at an old problem) can yield a plethora of promising growth options.
A sample approach to finding a team member’s strengths and weaknesses might go something like this:
“What has been the best day at work in the last three months for you?”- This question not only determines a potential strength, but it identifies a task, project, or activity a person was doing that they enjoyed enough to keep them engaged and feel satisfied. Even if this isn’t a current area of strength, this can become one with the proper support and motivation because it already intrinsically calls to the employee.
Determining a weakness can be as simple as flipping the question to the negative. “What was your worst day at work in the last three months?” This answer may not identify a weakness as a manager would see it as the task or project discussed may be something the employee is extremely proficient in; however, it provides the insight into what types of activities drain a person of their creativity, motivation, and overall willingness to perform at their best levels.
In coaching, it is best to focus on the positives. In doing so, even areas of weakness can be overcome with strategic self-actualized plans based in utilizing one’s strengths to take a new approach to defeating those weaknesses. In creating an ideal environment for actualizing a person’s strength, it is important to listen carefully to the details that triggered their strengths. In some cases, a positive trigger to success can be as simple as recognition for their success, or more management involvement as an employee needs to feel constant support, or perhaps the opposite trigger may be important and independence on projects will trigger success as micromanaging can make a different employee feel incapable and therefore unsatisfied and unactualized.
A good coach will be self-aware and is skilled at knowing the strengths, skills, and weakness in their team members and be adept at helping those members actualize their goals with clear, concise goals, timelines, objectives, and expectations. A good coach will make sure to allow adequate time to discuss any and all concerns and assist the employee with determining solutions utilizing an active listening and optimistic approach. Setting these positive standards for coaching sessions keeps steering the conversation to an area of success and commitment to solutions and proactiveness instead of dwelling on negativity and fostering weaknesses to continue. Encouragement and optimism coupled with resources, support, and timely follow-through will allow for the greatest success rate possible for each member of the team. Successfully navigating best coaching behaviors can better a team’s productivity, group dynamic, and effectiveness.
To learn more about the Front Line Leadership Program and how it can turn a good manager into a great coach, contact Robert Winter for program details and pricing at 832-483-5535 or complete our contact form on our contact page. Great leaders are trained on the Front Line.