Understanding Your Role as a Coach
Over the past few months, there have been a flurry of organization, across several industries, looking to conduct 360° evaluations for their key leaders. Many organizations see this as a way to assess leaders and gain data and insight into their Leadership Team. It is also an opportunity to invest in individuals and provide feedback and direction. The results of the 360° evaluations that we’ve conducted, including the debrief and coaching conversations that take place afterward, have resulted in a fascinating trend. Specifically, results showed that the biggest gap and opportunity for leaders, is in coaching their teams. So, what can leaders do to be better coaches for their teams?
Before we jump into how you can be a better coach, it is important to understand the current landscape of coaching. There’s no mistake that the past few years have caused leaders to adapt the way they do work and how they lead. As a result, many leaders have taken on more of a coaching role, within their organization, as it is an effective way to develop their teams, improve employee retention and create a consistent work culture. Despite more and more leaders taking on coaching roles, coaching remains a huge growth opportunity. This is heavily due to the traditional approach to coaching, which, oftentimes, is reactive and more focused on correcting mistakes and behaviors.
Now, this isn’t to say that correcting mistakes is wrong. In fact, it’s important to understand where mistakes happen and what can be done to prevent them from happening again. However, making corrective behavior the focus of your coaching strategy is ineffective and inefficient. This approach simply teaches your team to be reactive and only solve the problems in front of them, instead of taking a strategic approach to creating long-term solutions. Your role, as a coach, is to guide and develop your team’s ability to find solutions.
Based on the LEAD NOW! 360° Assessment, by Stewart Leadership, coaching is defined as, “guiding and challenging an individual to achieve improved performance, through self-discovery, feedback, encouragement and skill-development.” Achieving this, takes time and intentionally. It requires you, as a leader, to shift conversations from being reactive and tactical, to having discussions that are transformative and focused on how new skills are developed. It is about providing ongoing feedback to those around you and maintaining an awareness, on your part, on how to shift the conversations that you have with direct reports.
A prime example of this, was recently demonstrated by a leader we are working with. She realized that the agendas she had for her one-on-one meetings, were strictly focused on projects and tasks. There was no focus on development. This was because she is a highly task-focused individual and, in her mind, coaching meant correcting and telling her direct reports how to handle a situation. Although this method felt productive, something was missing. Her direct reports understood what they should do but not why. As a result, this leader was open with her direct reports, about how she wanted to change their agenda, to incorporate more coaching into their weekly discussions and team meetings. It was awkward, at first but she was intentional about not solving problems. Her focus shifted to how to ask the right questions, to get her team to think differently about how they approach problems. Today, as their conversations have evolved, coaching has become a part of how they interact, rather than a separate initiative.
As leaders take on coaching roles in their organizations, it becomes more and more important to understand that coaching is not a one-and-done deal. It is not about waiting and addressing issues, reactively, as that only results in missed opportunities. Instead, prioritize and seek out opportunities to deliver feedback, timely and readily. Begin shifting your conversations, by providing the necessary feedback, to fix any gaps and to help people prepare for what lies ahead. Doing this, is a more sustainable approach and a better investment for you and your team.
To further invest in yourself as a coach or your key leaders, The Utech Group offers several options. Our Leadership and Executive Coaching process is customized to fit the needs of each leader and their journey. Join the Utech Leadership Collective, a cohort of leaders from non-competing organizations, to build upon your own leadership skills while learning how to impact your leadership, team and organizational culture or contact us to complete the LEAD NOW! 360° Assessment, by Stewart Leadership, to gain a baseline for your leaders. All of these options can be found on our website, www.utechod.com.