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!
by Kathy Wells
Communication – an opportunity for continuous improvement in every organization.
An organization that has a well-thought out, consistently practiced communication strategy to keep everyone in the organization informed supports team member engagement and empowerment. When team members clearly understand business direction and goals, organizational change and reasons for such they can:
• Understand where they fit in to the “big picture” of the organization
• See how they impact customer satisfaction and the bottom-line
• Identify innovative ideas and actions they can take to contribute to the organization’s success and growth
• Show agility in change implementation
When team members see evidence that their ideas and actions are valued by leadership, team members:
• Give more than 100% of their discretionary effort to their work, achieving a high level of personal, team and organizational performance – evidence of engagement
• Appear, and report on employee surveys, a high level of satisfaction and happiness with their work, positively impacting employee morale – another evidence of engagement
• Take actions to continuously enhance their performance by gaining new skills, knowledge and experience to move the organization beyond where it is today – evidence of engagement and empowerment
• Continuously look for and present, with excitement, innovative ideas to grow the organization – evidence of engagement and empowerment
• Inspire others, through their high performance and level and enthusiasm, to follow suit – engagement and empowerment become contagious!
What does your organization do to keep everyone informed of where the organization is headed and what’s going on – real-time? What does your organization do to solicit upward communication?
Meetings? Web-based communications? Are communications clear and concise? Do they inspire and motivate? Are upward communication mediums in place?
What do your leaders do to communicate and make communications personally meaningful to their team and each team member?
Regularly scheduled team communications, involving all team members and not just the leader speaking? Coaching discussions? Feedback on ideas – implemented or not? Performance feedback – constructive and positive? Are change initiatives clearly explained, along with the reasons for and benefits of the change? Are team members recognized for high performance, extra effort and innovative ideas? Do your leaders listen?
The power of communication translates to the power of the organization.
By Kathy Wells
Throughout my over 25 years in business, I have provided leadership development and talent management consultation to organizations across a broad spectrum of industries including technology, manufacturing, banking, professional services and healthcare. I have worked with privately held, and publicly held Fortune 500 companies, ranging in size from 25 to over 25 ,000 employees.
In my observations, the key success factor in building a high performance culture is a strong leadership team. A strong, effective leadership team works in unison leading the organization’s team members toward a shared vision while exhibiting behaviors that inspire trust, confidence and open-communication.
A strong, effective leadership team:
- Shares business goals with team members and asks members to create their business
Do your team members understand the business, how they impact the customer and how they fit into the “big picture”?
- Encourages team members to think innovatively in goal creation and attainment
Do you ask your team members for their ideas on how to optimize business performance? Improve customer service? Create new products or services? Have fun in the workplace?
- Provides team members with resources and developmental experiences to achieve goals
Do you have a readily available pipeline of talent?
- Empowers team members to take action for goal execution
Do team members take action and capitalize on opportunities for enhanced business performance or do they wait for direction and permission?
- Fosters self-leadership and accountability among team members
Do you ask your team members to create their goals (instead of assigning goals) and/or identify actions for goal achievement? When team members create their own goals they tend to be more committed to the goal than when a goal is given to them.
While the infrastructure of an organization in terms of systems, such as a talent management system, policies, practices and processes play a role in the success of an organization, people are inspired to excel when led and valued by great leaders.