The Coach ~ Leadership Styles – Part 2

Coaching TeamWelcome to Part 2 of Leadership Styles – The Coach

Author, educator, and motivational speaker, Dr. William Arthur Ward wrote a phrase that I try to remember. It gives me personal strength to do the right thing, rather than the easy thing – ‘The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.’ The effective Coach uses a combination of these, but at the right moment with the right individual.

There are key differences between the Terminator (see Part 1) way of managing people and that of the Coach. Whereas the Terminator tends to get things done by lecturing, directing and telling, the Coach asks thought-provoking questions, makes effective requests, listens well – especially for the unsaid, and offers constructive effective feedback to help someone learn and develop.

The Coach is excellent at helping others to advance their skills, building strength and providing career guidance. The best coaches are patient, perceptive, self aware, reflective, open, supportive and keen observers.  They are adept at giving valuable feedback that doesn’t generate defensiveness and are great communicators. They help their employees by uncovering their blind spots and challenging self-limiting beliefs. Most effective coaching takes place through observation, assessment, dialogue, inquiry and conversations.

A coaching leader balances meeting short-term targets with long-term goals towards achieving the vision of an organisation. The Coach pro-actively links development to organisational goals, holding conversations that reach beyond work, helping people find strengths and weaknesses and linking these to career progression and personal development plans. They are good at delegating challenging projects, demonstrating trust and which often leads to high levels of loyalty and personal development.

The Coach does not ‘wrap you in cotton wool’. They give insight from their own experience, they set high standards, they delegate, and they give tough projects to their team and they’ll give you feedback….a great deal. The Coach is an individual that is genuinely interested in helping others succeed.

The coaching leadership style is most effective when the employees working under the coach are receptive to this help. People that do not want development, that are happy to be in the office at 1 minute to 9 in the morning  and leave at 1 minute past 5 in the afternoon, whilst not always, but quite often, are threatened by this kind of management style.

The Coach often portrays the following characteristics:

  • Has high standards and continually raises the bar for their own learning and performance
  • Shares personal experience and learning, freely with others
  • Questions people around their thoughts and feelings  to inspire personal growth
  • Uses 360 degree feedback to help them continually grow
  • Is approachable and intuitive
  • Has a large network to pool information from and seek advice
  • Sees unrealised potential in others and helps them to see it for themselves
  • Can challenge others without making them feel criticised
  • Is passionate about the success of others
  • Is able to coach for both today (results) and tomorrow (progression)
Who wouldn’t want a Coach as their boss or even to be a coach themselves? Well, there are some downsides to this leadership style:

Coaching takes time

Not all businesses / teams have time for the Coach to do a great job. And it DOES take time to develop people. Every business / organisation has targets to meet of one sort or another. Even the best Coach has to weigh up the effort and time involved to develop someone into a role, versus the cost-benefit of  recruiting the right person into the right role, at the right time, at the right cost. Not everyone can be coached quickly enough to the level required, if at all, and sometimes tough commercial decisions will have to be made as to whether the person needs to find a better role that better suits their skills. A good Leader needs to make the choice at the right time, so as not to let the rest of the team down by carrying people who can’t develop their potential quickly enough.

Coaching takes energy

The Coach uses personal energy developing their people – physical, mental, emotional and sometime spiritual energy. The Coach needs to keep in touch with their energy levels, to ensure they stay fit and keep themselves well whilst doing the best for their people.

To summarise, the Coach leadership style can be a very powerful force in any organisation as long as they have a team of passionate people who are keen to progress their careers, the time to coach and the energy to make it happen!
Would love to hear your feedback!

Be sure to read part 3 of Leadership Styles – The Oracle

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Feedback: A teaspoonful of criticism, and a bucketful of praise!

BullyingA very wise lady, the late Blanche Eldon, told me something when I was about 15 years old, that has stayed with me ever since. I was in my first management role – a Patrol Leader in a local Boy Scout Troop.

We were mid-way through our ten-day summer camp and one of my patrol, Dan, had consistently not been carrying out his jobs around camp, and his behaviour was making my patrol, and me, angry. I was giving him a telling off – shouting, giving him punishments and generally being a bully, because he wasn’t doing what I needed him to do. In the midst of my shouting, Blanche politely called me over and said:

‘I’ve always found that a teaspoonful of criticism and a bucketful of praise is the best way to develop people rather than getting angry and shouting. Why don’t you try it?’

I did, with a bit of coaching…and it worked! Having different kinds of conversations turned around not only Dan’s behaviour, but our relationship improved too.

Feedback to your team and peers is hugely important if you want to develop powerful relationships, but in order to get the best out of those conversations, screaming, shouting, finger-pointing and aggression is NOT the best way to get the most out of people. Worse still, this type of behaviour can not only lead to poor relationships, it can have a serious long-term impact on the person you are targeting. Believe me, I’ve seen it a few times in my career. Framing feedback in a constructive, supportive way, pointing out  positive contribution and behaviours, as well as focussed time discussing where behaviours could be better, will do wonders when giving feedback to improve your relationships.

Below are a few tips on how you might handle giving negative feedback:

1. Don’t always wait for formal occasions to give feedback

Feedback works best in the moment. Performance reviews and monthly or quarterly 121’s are often too few and far between. Far better to offer feedback in a casual, non-confrontational conversation as soon after the ‘event’ as possible.

2. Ask permission to give a person feedback , especially if it’s to a peer

3. Always give negative feedback in private

4. Describe the behaviour and the impact that it had / is having, and be specific.

Feedback is much easier to accept when the person receiving it does not feel their personal worth is being criticised. It is much better to state feedback positively, rather than negatively, when possible. People generally respond better to specific, positive direction. Avoid saying things like, “You need to be more talkative in meetings.” It’s too ambiguous and can be interpreted in a lot of personal ways. Say something specific and positive pointed at the task you want accomplished, such as, “You have some good ideas. I want to hear at least one opinion from you in every meeting we’re in together going forward.”

 5. Discuss what is going to happen next.

How is the person going to change their behaviour? Ask if he or she understands everything you expect and that you’re there to help him or her succeed. As the saying goes: “People have a habit of becoming what you encourage them to be, not what you nag them to be.”

Giving feedback is first of all an attitude and can only be made a habit by constant practice. “The worst harm you can do,” Jack Welch, says in his book, Winning, “is not to be candid with someone else.”

10 ways to build powerful relationships

Strong Business RelationshipsIn my experience, over performance in business can’t happen consistently without great relationships. Similarly, if you look at underperformance in your team, you will often find that it is the lack of relationships or broken relationships that are the cause.

There is no quick fix….sorry. BUT, if you invest time, honesty, passion and energy into relationships, you will gradually see a shift, and with perseverance you can achieve great things.

 Below, I’ve outlined 10 actions that you can take that will make a difference!

1. Be interested in others….genuinely.

Dale Carnegie (How to win friends and influence people) says that “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.” Invest time in getting to know your peers and your colleagues. WARNING – If you can’t do this genuinely – DON’T DO IT – you’ll be found out very quickly and will have the reverse effect.

2. Listen generously

Generous listening requires a commitment to learn about the person you want to build a powerful relationship with. In order to effectively practice generous listening, you must first be aware of your normal listening patterns. It is not all that easy to pay attention. Humans just aren’t wired that way. We get distracted. We are wired with connections – anything we hear can remind us of some other connection – and then we are distracted. So, you must be sensitive to your place of mind, and monitor and re-focus continuously. You must consciously choose to suspend your judgments, opinions and history with the person speaking. To do this, try listening with your whole body. Use all of your senses to listen, connect and be open to what the other person is communicating. You will be surprised at what you discover, but it does take practice.

3. Commit to a person’s success

Once you have made the decision to build a powerful relationship with someone, you should ask yourself the question – Do I want to commit to the success of this person? That’s a big ask, if you truly commit.  But, if the answer is yes, you will find yourself interacting differently with that person, asking different questions of them and opening up new possibilities with and for that person. In business, especially in larger businesses, it is very easy just to look after number one and point the finger elsewhere when things go wrong. If you are committed to a person’s success, you won’t point fingers – you’ll talk, you’ll coach, you’ll support and get to a resolution. It can be very very powerful, with practice.

 4. Try to understand what makes others tick

Everyone has different motivations and passions in life, and most people don’t leave their personal lives at the door when they come into their place of work. Spend time with your people to understand what motivates them and what their values, ways of working and ambitions are. By gaining an understanding of these it may help you formulate a new way of working that helps you both get the most from your relationship. This is the informal and best way, in my view, to get the best out of people. There are plenty of management tools out there concerning personality types that may supplement this – Myers Briggs, DISC Strategy being the better ones in my experience.

5. 121’s – It’s really important to invest time in your relationships One on One.  

Whether the people you are trying build powerful relationships with work for you or not, 121’s are an essential time for you to invest in your relationships. Ideally take time out of your diary for at least once per month if not every two weeks to work on your powerful relationship. If you can do these away from the office environment, even better. Try and structure these sessions in such a way that you both get something out of it. One session may be for you to focus on a task that you both may have an interest in, another might be for you to give each other feedback on where things may not be going quite so well, another maybe around an issue that one of you would like some advice on. Don’t cancel them if at all possible – these should be important to both of you!

Ask Questions, Don't Tell

6. Ask questions, don’t tell

As a business leader, you will often know the solution to a problem brought to you…How would you respond? If you are committed to someone’s success and want to build a powerful relationship, maybe the right way is to coach a solution from that person. The easy way out is to “tell people” rather than asking them. When you give out too many solutions, then people never learn to think for themselves and stretch their capabilities.

The purpose of asking questions is to stimulate dialogue and exchange of ideas. Such activity prompts the other person to think and learn and increases his or her commitment to what is being discussed. Even if you can answer the question as well or better than they can, ask it anyway. By actively involving them, it adds to their buy-in and performance quality and helps your relationship develop.

 7. Give feedback

Giving feedback is the cornerstone of powerful relationships. Very few people come to work to do a bad job and very few people go out of their way to upset people intentionally. Sometimes people are not aware of the impact they have on others either through their behaviours or actions. I’ve given a few ideas below on how you might approach giving feedback:

a) Give feedback in private and face to face if at all possible – never in a text message, IM or email. 

b) Be timely – give feedback as quickly as possible after the action / behaviour

c)  Be specific with the feedback and try to give a positive reinforcement of how they might have done ‘it’ differently

d) Don’t make it personal – talk about the action / behaviour rather than the individual

e) Ensure you give positive feedback when you notice the change of behaviour

8. Offer to help

Sometimes we all need some support, someone to bounce an idea around with or someone to sound off at. Offering to work with someone on an issue can often really help develop your relationship to a different level and may help take some of the weight off their shoulders at the same time.

9. ‘Wear their Glasses’ – Put yourself in their position

Looking at a challenge or situation from another person’s perspective is a really useful way of getting to the root of issues in the workplace and relationships. You’d be amazed at how differently people perceive the same issue, especially if you work in multi-disciplinary teams. This is another one to practice, as it’s not always easy – it may be one to try out as a team if you can.

10. Don’t put off difficult conversations

It’s often easier in the short-term to avoid confrontation, but the fact is, not having tough conversations costs your business money and is not helping deliver powerful relationships. If left unsaid, issues can create rifts in your relationships and those of your team, leading to further problems downstream.

Keys to the Corporate Kingdom - Book

Acknowledgements: Charles E Smith & Tony and Maggie Turnbull (The Merlin Factor) for their inspiration, energy and friendship.

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