Thanks to my friend, Taseer (Taz) Ahmad, for this blog which describes 5 skills leaders can employ when coaching for effect. Remember that the point of leadership is to inspire people to follow and work with you to achieve a worthwhile aim. Coaching is one of the key tools that will help you to do so.
Here is Taz:
Leaders must promote professional development in staff. Here are 5 coaching skills that anyone can develop to boost their leadership effectiveness.
5 Important Coaching Skills for Effective Leadership
Tags - Coaching Skills for Effective Leadership
Coaching plays a critical role in all organisations.
Leaders need the ability to facilitate professional development in employees to not only improve their performance (which is important to your bottom line) but to positively impact their well-being which will benefit organisational health in the long term.
Today, smaller businesses have been investing more and more in developing their leaders as coaches in the hope of developing talent within.
However, 58% of managers report that they have received no formal training for their role, which begs the question, 'how much do business leaders really know about coaching?'
Here are the 5 important coaching skills that anyone can develop to boost their effectiveness as a manager-leader by coaching their staff:
To be an effective coach, a leader must understand the influence they have on others: they have a huge impact on their teams and people.
Consequently, being too direct or prescriptive when you communicate can result in others taking a back seat when it comes to their personal development.
On the other hand, leaders who are too passive can come across as disengaged and do not help employees feel empowered or capable.
Strong leaders are adaptive communicators; they can read the room and know when it is the right time to stay quiet or to speak up, and they can draw on a range of communication styles based on what employees need in different situations.
And so, leaders must be able to gather information and understand their employee’s concerns, set boundaries and deliver feedback to generate momentum.
Motivation and communication go hand-in-hand.
In fact, motivation is included in the definition of coaching. It is needed right from the start to drive actions and is critical when delivering feedback.
So, a motivating coaching session will help employees pursue their goals. Often, leaders introduce incentives to stimulate personal engagement as a way for employees to foster goal-directed behaviour.
In other words, when an employee is faced with obstacles during their professional development, a good coach will steer them in the right direction to get back on track.
A good place to start is giving employees autonomy around the “how” of development; let them choose the actions they want to take whilst making relevant resources available and easily accessible.
Secondly, all wins, no matter how big or small, should be celebrated as a way to sustain momentum and recognise progress.
Finally, a good coach needs to 'talk the talk' and walk the walk', so lead by example by visibility pursuing your own personal development too.
3. Build Trust
Coaching is a great way to build trust between employees and their leaders.
Of course it needs to be earned, but building trust helps to create a strong foundation for progress to be made. In fact, this attribute is essential for any effective team as well.
When an employee knows that their leader has their best interests in mind, it makes them feel safe and encourages them to open up. And this information helps coaches and leaders to devise a plan for development that will benefit all: more information from employees means it is easier to identify problems, suggest solutions and generate alternatives that support them to grow, helping them, their work colleagues and their companies.
When it comes to coaching, leaders should always make their intentions clear (explicitly state the aim/s of the coaching session or programme) and honour any commitments. Always listen carefully, practice open communication, ask questions where necessary and show that you are acting with the employee’s best interests in mind.
Sounds almost obvious, but few leaders receive training in how to build trust.
4. Spot Strengths
Research suggests that an effective way to boost performance is to develop employees' individual strengths rather than focus on their weak areas.
This is because focusing on strengths can help employees feel unique, facilitates self-awareness and increases their confidence. And this positively impacts the team as it makes for a more diverse skill set, achieves collective intelligence and thus generates more creative solutions.
Essentially, leaders need quickly identify strengths in the first place and good coaches are sharp strength-spotters. To do this, leaders must know how to ask the right questions during their coaching sessions by drawing on observations made in the workplace. Psychometric and behavioural tools such as Belbin Team Roles can also help here by highlighting the coachee's preferred ways of working and revealing hitherto hidden strengths.
As employees are encouraged to self-reflect, they should give positive, constructive feedback and devise plans to increase their engagement and improve performance.
5. Focus on Outcomes
Leaders that focus on outcomes, collaboration and identifying solutions, are able to deliver results and improve performance. It’s that simple.
Yes, coaching takes time. But, an outcome-focused approach promotes progress and helps to take away the time needed, by both leaders and employees, to analyse problems and generate innovative ideas.
On one hand, this involves efficient goal-setting and on the other, managing progress over time and appointing responsibility for that progress to the employee.
A great way to do this is to set clear goals with your employees together. In doing so you can offer practical advice, offer solutions and suggest different pathways to achieve these, but where it is feasible, let them come up with the best way to achieve the goal.
In addition to ad hoc observations, development needs to be evaluated at specific milestones. Here, progress and problems are both acknowledged, along with causes and impacts, and plans for further improving performance can be agreed.
Although all of the skills above can be easily learned, it is important to be aware of your own personal leadership style to identify the strengths that can enhance your coaching ability (and to mitigate the impact of any weaknesses).
Overall, being a better coach and leader will help to boost engagement and productivity, better your employees’ well-being and therefore positively affect your bottom line.
To learn more, get in touch with us today.