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3 Effective Ways to Lead as a Coach Rather Than a Boss

Positioning companies for growth and long-term success requires leaders who are coaches more than managers

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You’re a good leader who strives to hire more good people leaders. That’s admirable, but you may still wind up with a toxic work environment or disengaged team members. Even good leadership can have bad habits that affect everything from corporate culture to turnover. As an executive coach and now as partner in a global professional services firm, I’ve seen the same story play out countless times in my corporate career. The pattern is back-breaking for leaders — and it’s high time we break the back of that pattern.

Take the way leaders treat their team members, for instance. Their engagement decisions can sway team morale and productivity by 70 percent, according to Gallup. Unfortunately, far too many misunderstand how to develop their workers. Instinctually, they want to help and coach. But they make errors such as waiting until annual reviews to provide guidance or just telling people what to do instead of encouraging them to find answers.

Related: Good Leaders Can Change an Industry, and ‘Mr. Tomato’ Did Just That

This is nothing new, of course. But simply labeling misguided leaders as “bad” bosses is unfair. Plenty are just repeating what they experienced as they came up the ranks. For example, a leader might have learned from a past leader who was mercurial but seemed to get results. Now, that leader’s go-to stress response is reacting instead of reflecting.

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