Wouldn’t it be great if you lead a team of great problem solvers and innovative thinkers who were self-motivated . . . and demonstrated a high level of accountability? A good leader develops these skills in his/her team members through coaching.
Through skilled conversation, a leader uses coaching to develop a team member’s skills and competencies for current and future roles resulting in enhanced individual, team and business performance.
What is coaching?
Coaching is the “art” of asking questions and actively listening to help a team member self-reflect, self-assess, self-discover and self-develop. For example, if a team member presents a problem situation to his/her leader, the leader asks the team member questions to guide him/her through a thought process to understand the situation, identify and evaluate options and determine action(s) to take. While this sounds simple, the “art” of coaching requires that the leader ask the right, and probing, questions to move the conversation in the right direction.
How does coaching differ from mentoring?
While a coach asks questions, a mentor shares information about his/her skills, knowledge and experience. In other words, a coach asks and a mentor tells.
Why is it important to know the difference between coaching and mentoring?
Coaching and mentoring skills are very different – asking vs. telling. Many leaders find it easy to share what they know. They find it more challenging to identify the right questions to ask and, sometimes, the patience to take a team member through the self-reflection/assessment/discovery /development process.
The results are very different:
Team members who are coached learn to problem solve and think innovatively. They feel valued, build self-confidence, become engaged and self-motivated and demonstrate commitment and accountability in action – the action that they determine, not the leader.
Team members who are only mentored tend become reliant on their leader for answers to problems. They miss opportunities for innovative thinking that might result in process improvements, higher productivity or enhanced customer satisfaction. The team member can be at a disadvantage for developing new skills, knowledge and experience if only mentored and not, also, coached.
Over time, leaders who coach (balanced with mentoring) find that they are not sought out for problem resolution (and fire fighting), but, instead, to hear solutions to problems and innovative ideas for enhanced individual, team and organizational performance.
Create a coaching culture and see your team members thrive and achieve their potential!