Why is it important for the leaders and managers in any organization to use coaching as part of their leadership style? There are a growing number of organizational leaders who recognize the importance of coaching in their companies. They see that effective coaching by leaders at all levels will empower, engage and develop employees. According to a 2016 survey by the Human Capital Institute the business case for a strong coaching culture is higher employee engagement and higher revenues.
What Will Prohibit a Coaching Culture?
Many will tell you that they do not have the time to be a coach. The red flag here is your managers are telling you they do not have the time for the people for whom they are responsible. If managers do not have time for employees, they (employees) know and feel it which can lead to a disengaged team. Another reason is the lack of accountability. If the leaders of an organization want a coaching culture they need to:
Develop the skills themselves.
Provide professional development for all leaders to learn coaching skills.
Hold all accountable to use the skills (hint, put it on their personal development plan).
In other words, one just cannot say we want a coaching culture and expect it to happen. Finally, some leaders or managers will not be able to add coaching skills to their leadership style. Effective leaders would take appropriate action as their company permits for these non-responding individuals.
What Are Coaching Skills?
The International Coaching Federation (ICF) has identified eleven skills to be an effective coach. Some top skills are, establishing trust, asking powerful questions, being open, flexible and confidant and practice active listening.
For the leaders and associates establishing trust will be the foundation for a solid coach/coachee relationship. Leaders build trust by being honest and supportive, show the team that you genuinely care about them and by being competent. This will promote open communication and constructive feedback for both.
A leader who is asking powerful questions is helping associates discover their own insights. Asking open ended questions to get the other party to speak and being comfortable with dead air (allow time for responses) are both good practices for effective questioning. Powerful questions are simple but meaningful and should always have a purpose. Michael Bungay Stanier author of The Coaching Habit focuses on seven questions leaders can use to help their teams.
The Kickstart Question: What’s on your mind?
The Awe Question: And what else?
The Focus Question: What’s the real challenge here for you?
The Foundation Question: What do you want?
The Lazy Question: How can I help?
The Strategic Question: If you’re saying “yes” to this, to what are you saying “no”?
The Learning Question: What was most useful for you?
A leader who is open and flexible is showing employees that their way is not the only way. In other words, these leaders are receptive to other thoughts and ideas and they do not have to have all the answers.
Great listening skills are essential for a coach! Many of us have learned that active listening is making eye contact, nodding and appropriate responses show you are engaged in the conversation. In addition, great listeners will ask clarifying questions to promote understanding. This will create a deeper conversation and result in the associates feeling that they have been heard.
Coaching Culture Conclusion.
Implementing a coaching culture, like any cultural change, will take time. The senior leaders must invest in the employee’s development with the appropriate training. All stakeholders must be held accountable. Senior leaders need to walk the talk and become coaches themselves, all leaders in the organization need to be held accountable to practice the coaching skills they have learned and employees must own the coaching the receive.
Over time in your organization, you will see that the leaders will understand the difference between coaching, which will empower people to find their way and directing, which will require specific actions.
Tom Renehan, of Tom Renehan Coaching and Leadership Development, is a Certified Professional Coach working with individuals and groups to improve their leadership skills. He is also certified in Leadership Effectiveness 360, an assessment that measures 22 leadership behaviors. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. He is based in Yarmouth, Maine.