There is all the difference in the world between saying, ‘Keep your eye on the ball!’ and asking, ‘Which way does the ball spin after it hits the ground?’ or, ‘Exactly where does the tennis ball hit your racket?’ Both are used to coach. Only one method is effective.
As leaders, we are all coaches. Whether it’s in our job, with our family or with our community, we help people become more effective. That is the primary role of a coach- to help people become more effective.
The ability to coach is a great leadership tool to help empower others and to also sustain their development. Great coaching can help develop self-sufficient people, increase engagement and produce better ideas and solutions. The coach’s job becomes more interesting, challenging and fun when great coaching takes place.
To be a good coach, it’s necessary to make three basic assumptions.
First, a great coach is in a partnership with others. The coach desires peak performance from people in order to achieve results. The person being coached wants the rewards that come from personal productivity, recognition and feeling competent. Both people have a significant investment in accomplishment.
The second assumption is that people are motivated to improve. Great coaching does not involve the carrot or the stick. It requires leadership and specific skills.
Third, people have experience that can be used by the coach to help in their growth and development. Coaches are not required to have all the answers. Coaches don’t just tell people what to do and how to do it. Effective coaches have dialogue with people and listen to what people say.
Listening and asking effective questions can be your ultimate leadership tool. It is your primary tool in creating world class coaching experiences.
Here are 5 tips to enhance your coaching experiences:
- When a person answers your question with a question, answer that question with questions that contain possible clues. Here are a few examples: For example, suppose that you ask another person: “What changes would you like to see in the way this is done?” If the other person responds by saying: “I don’t know, coach, what do you think?” Rather than telling, you could ask: “Considering the strong emphasis that we are now placing on reducing the cost, how do you think we could be even more effective?”
- Use silence as a tool. Maintain silence after asking a question to give the other person an opportunity to respond. If you think you know what the other person should say or do, it is difficult to maintain silence but keep quiet. Be patient!
- Avoid running two questions together. If the other person has difficulty in answering the questions, say: “Let me rephrase the question…”and ask one question that provides additional clues or insight. Key take-away – Always ask permission before directly providing information. Ask: “Could I make a suggestion?”
- Really listen. As the other person speaks, maintain eye contact, nod to indicate active listening, clear your mind of your thoughts and focus. When the person stops speaking, collect your thoughts, summarize and acknowledge the person’s feelings, if appropriate.
- Use self-disclosure. This is very powerful! Where does it say that coaches have to always do things right and never make mistakes, and above all, never have feelings? It doesn’t say this anywhere. Good communication occurs when two human beings talk honestly with each other. Coaches are not perceived as “weak” or “incompetent” when they confess to having made a mistake or two.
If all this sounds wonderful and coaching is so great, why don’t we do it more often? Some of the reasons may be it feels really good to give someone the answer, it’s often easier to tell than ask, it’s good for our ego to be seen as the expert or the other person may think we are incompetent if we don’t give them the answer.
Coaching is not an option. It is a part of living! Successful leaders do it very well. The good news is that coaching is a set of skills that can be learned, and then applied to help the other person become more than he or she ever imagined. Effective coaching is great leadership.
Until next time, Leaders Develop Daily Not in a Day