Source | The Mojo Company
Aside from accountability, I think coaching may be one of the most misunderstood words in the leadership lexicon.
(Let’s be real. It’s been hijacked and given a negative connotation by some bosses out there who’ve decided to hide behind the word in order to do any number of things to people up to and including emotionally abusing them. You’ve seen them and I’ve seen them. That’s cowardly and that’s a shame. That’s also not really coaching.)
Like I said though, coaching is often used in different ways. Sometimes it’s used interchangeably with other words, and other times it’s just used with no discernible or distinct meaning (and by gosh, words mean things).
At the same time, both our gut and research tell us that coaching is a key component of successful teams and organizations, and as such it should be woven into our organizational culture. With that in mind, let’s think this through. And keep in mind as we go that these should be used in concert, meaning that you’ll use each of these at different points and in combination with each other.
The Best Leaders Coach by Setting the Stage
What I mean by “setting the stage” is getting folks to a point where they understand that they might actually want or even — gasp — need coaching or development. This will look different from person to person.
Some people know they need real-deal development if they’re to reach their potential and are eager to get started. Others need to be jolted out of a sense of complacency. Others may need a bit of a reality check — they might need to be shown that they’re not quite as amazing as they may have led themselves to believe they are.
Whatever the case is, until someone actually sees their need for development, coaching efforts are largely in vain because there won’t be any real sense of urgency around them.
The Best Leaders Coach by Gaining Awareness and Insight
This is an ongoing process for both the coach and the other person. As a leader and coach, you’re wanting to gain insight into where the person is right now and where they’re wanting to go, sure; but you’re also wanting to help the other person develop a greater level of self-awareness.
Questions are also fantastic for pointing out gaps. What I mean by gaps (or you could even think of them as inconsistencies perhaps) is stuff like helping folks see the difference between their current actual performance and how they perceive their performance, and further still, their desired performance. Another example might be the difference between what they intended with their words or actions and what the actual impact of those words or actions was.
The Best Leaders Coach by Challenging
This is one that folks who are into “leadership” just to be liked simply won’t do, and that’s a shame, because it’s what great leaders do without exception. Think about it — think about the greatest coaches in any sport. When it comes down to it, it isn’t about them being adored, or loved, or worshipped, or anything like that. They challenge people. That means it won’t always feel like rainbows and unicorns when you’re being coached.
Any former high school and/or college athletes out there? Yeah. You remember all those practices. All the running. And conditioning. And the strength training. And all the…ahem…pleasant chats you’d receive from your coach during those gut-check conditioning sessions. I don’t know about yours, but I don’t recall mine whispering sweet affirmations into my ear during wind sprints.