Do Your Leaders Coach?

That isn't a "gotcha" question. It's simply a direct one.

Regardless of the job title, if we're responsible for how other people perform then we're responsible for how they learn to perform even better. One of the things we now know from organizational research is that employees not only want a coaching relationship with their boss--they expect it. (If you want some coaching tips for yourself or to share, please download the free e-book in the column on the right).

So. . .

What Happens When Leaders Coach? Coaching_3

You may already have the right people to enable your company to "win"--however you define the word.

A couple of years ago I was involved in designing a leadership program to develop the top talent in a global company. We created a model that used the senior management team as coaches for the structured learning activities. First we coached the coaches on how to coach; then we turned them loose. It's been the most effective learning we've experienced in nearly 30 years of leadership development and design.

 

What's happening that works?  

  • The top leadership learns a lot about their own abilities.
  • They learn about their people while developing closer relationships with them.
  • The high potential participants receive coaching and company insight from the leaders who know it best.
  • The participants also "step up" their game. How often do you see the top leadership in a company totally dedicate two full days to the talent beneath them?

You Can Do It, Too

Leaders are the natural lighting rods for developing talent. Coaching isn't another job--it is their job.

Companies are always looking for ways to develop people economically but effectively. Every research study on the planet shows that employees are most influenced--pro or con--by their immediate boss. That's exactly why leaders at every level have the ability to make the most difference when it comes to grooming people for the future.

The mission: Give them the capability

actions leaders can begin now:

  • Appreciate: Focus on Identifying the very best in others.
  • Encounter:  Seek the truth, wherever that path will lead.
  • Improve: Insist upon personal responsibility for performance growth.

When leaders coach, we get "two personal bests" for the price of one.

Build Competence Through Questions

Leaders do have to tell people exactly what to do when a person isn't yet competent--and confident--about the task or assignment. (The whole "leader" thing isn't just about high-concept and vision).

But how do you develop managers who are knowledgeable and committed?

You can build increased confidence and deeper understanding by asking questions designed to help them make their own discoveries and decisions. Here are seven questions to get you started as  a "coaching" leader:

Influence_7 Questions.001 

As you become more comfortable with probing questions, you'll develop your own. Do you have any favorites now?

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Five Hints You Should Make A Change

If you've ever wondered what executive coaches really do that adds great value, it's this: We create a relationship that enables our client to clearly see reality

Life isn't a part of business; business is a part of life. So, everything of consequence leads to confronting and resolving some kind of issue that leads to a choice about personal change. All of the choices aren't always huge, but they are necessary in order to develop more healthy and effective patterns of work and leadership.

What To Look For

I started thinking about the kinds of signs that flash to indicate the person across the table really does need to make a change. Maybe one or more apply to you as well. Here are five that stand out for me:

1. People whom you trust strongly believe you should make a change.

 Let's be honest: sometimes other people see us more clearly than we see ourselves. Sure, it's important not to base your life on what others think. But if six people who have your best interests at heart all tell you the same thing, it's a good idea to pay attention.

Note: Last year an executive client who received almost unanimous feedback on certain behaviors chose to explain away every last one, attributing the information to the fact that "no one really understands me". Actually, they did. He is no longer working for that company.

Changes

2. You're holding on to something and just can’t let go.

It's happened to all of us: we have an incident or a nagging situation, and are unable to forget about it. That's a signal that you just might want to make a change. If you  can’t accept the fact that your manager doesn't acknowledge your contributions, maybe it’s time to update your resume and put it into circulation. There are times when letting go requires real action, not just a mental exercise.

3. You feel envious of what other people have achieved.

This involves action, too. Jealousy devours us from the inside out. At the same time, it can be a signal that we have some meaningful goals on which we've taken zero action. If you find yourself resentful of a colleague who recently earned a professional certification, maybe you should ask yourself what kinds of professional accreditations you've been putting off. That could be the springboard to an advanced degree or special studies in your particular discipline.

4. You deny any problem--and are angry in the process.

I do a lot of confidential, "remedial" coaching for people who have been accused of acting in a harrassing or hostile manner. Anger is a common symptom of denial. (Assuming that the evidence is valid; otherwise, there's darned good reason to be angry).

One way to get through the whole denial thing is to look for--or help someone else see--an abundance of objective evidence. That's why, in business, 360 feedback is usually pretty effective. The truth will, indeed, set you free. It does, however, seem scary in the moment.

5. If you do absolutely nothing, the problem will continue.

Interpersonal "stuff" is common in the land of cube-dwellers.

Let's say your next-door cubie listens to news radio all day, and you are really tired of hearing  Traffic on the Twos. Perhaps if you just let her know it was getting in the way of your work, she'd get a set of earbuds. Or, maybe not. But nothing will happen unless you broach the issue in a calm, direct way. And you'll know that you took action, which will give you an internal sense of honesty and integrity. That almost always leads to a better sense of self.

What else have you found that might be good indicators for managers, coaches, and anyone looking for signs to change?

 

Three Persuasive Ideas

If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, 
I'd spend six sharpening my axe.--Abraham Lincoln

We never outgrow our need to be persuasive. Managers have to persuade employees to "get on board" with a new idea or change; salespeople get paid to persuade customers to buy; and potential customers persuade salespeople that a change in the "deal" just might make them a paying customer.

We're all faced with the challenge of persuasion and influencing. Here are three ideas to help meet your next challenge:

Golf

Create the Right Atmosphere

Did you know that participants rate educational seminars higher when they are held at a resort location? That factoid comes from the meeting planners who have to schedule them. Diners linger a bit longer in comfortable restaurants, and are prone to ultimately have a more expensive after-dinner refreshment and a dessert. Shoppers spend more time shopping if there is background music. Job applicants sign on the dotted line more often if they are interviewed in plush surroundings vs. the loading dock.

The next time you have a meeting, with one or one hundred, what's the best atmosphere to put your listeners in the most receptive mood?

Get At The End of a Parade

If you find that you are one of a number of presenters at a meeting, ask to go last. We've all had different experiences with this but here's what I've realized happens more often than not:

1. By the time the others trot out their list of pie charts, statistics, and million-dollar ideas, the listeners are growing tired as well as forgetful. Your presentation will at least be the last one on their minds. 

2. If you are last, you stand a chance of being bumped completely and then end up getting a courtesy re-schedule. This now puts you in the position of being the only thing on people's minds at your new presentation. (There's also something of a sympathy factor for being bumped. Bask in it).

Stand Up

When I work with a small group--6-8 people--I start off seated at the table with them. When it comes time to make a serious point or convey urgency, I stand up and draw on a flipchart or whiteboard. It changes the dynamic, adds to the point trying to be made, and lets people know I believe the issue or idea merits special consideration.

How will you be a bit more persuasive today?

Employee Engagement: Pay Attention to These

The notion of Employee Engagement has been with us for a while now.

I noticed in a meeting last week that everyone was passionate when we started discussing "engagement". But the longer we talked, the less I was convinced that we were talking about the same thing. In fact, we all had a personal, sensible, gut level idea of what it meant. But the "definition gap" emerged when we began talking about how to approach the issue.

Engagement Motivation QuotePredictable, actually. Whenever you find yourself in disagreement about "how" to do something, it's a signal to back up a step and agree on a common definition of "what" you are working on. 

How Do You Define Employee Engagement?

The Conference Board researched the issue of definition and came to the same conclusion: different studies reflected different definitions of Employee Engagement. So they came up with a "blended" definition and some key themes that represented all of the studies.

The definition of Employee Engagement: "a heightened emotional connection that an employee feels for his or her organization, that influences him or her to exert greater discretionary effort to his or her work".

That makes sense and is easily understood.

What I think is truly helpful to those involved in creating Employee Engagement is the Conference Board's synthesis of 8 key drivers of engagement. These offer concrete targets for development:

  • Trust and integrity – how well managers communicate and 'walk the talk'.

  • Nature of the job –Is it mentally stimulating day-to-day?

  • Line of sight between employee performance and company performance – Does the employee understand how their work contributes to the company's performance?

  • Career Growth opportunities –Are there future opportunities for growth?

  • Pride about the company – How much self-esteem does the employee feel by being associated with their company?

  • Coworkers/team members – significantly influence one's level of engagement

  • Employee development – Is the company making an effort to develop the employee's skills?

  • Relationship with one's manager – Does the employee value his or her relationship with his or her manager?

Can You Work With Those Eight?

What do you think?

For those of us who have to turn theory into practice, I like the simple and concise one-liners that can lead to purposeful action. They provide starting points for meaningful discussions as well.

Bonus: If you want an ongoing look at what's happening in employee engagement, a terrific resource is my friend David Zinger and his Employee Engagement Network.

 

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Steve Roesler, Principal & Founder
The Steve Roesler Group
Office: 609.654.7376
Mobile: 856.275.4002

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