In this edition we looked to clarify the myths around coaching.
Today I want to talk about how leaders can incorporate coaching techniques into their management approach. I found using a “coach approach” (I’ve written about this before
) to my management style to be transformative and enabled me to get much more out of my teams, and myself.
To me, a coach approach, is when you default to asking open ended questions and helping your team members get to their own answers instead of jumping in and telling them how you think they should do it.
This does require immense patience and time, but is not only more rewarding for the individual as they will actually learn, but enables leaders to empower their teams and stay out of the weeds.
When we are overworked, overwhelmed, and under pressure we are much more likely to jump in and “fix” the problem. This can also feel much more rewarding, especially if we are feeling a bit insecure, as it confirms the need for our knowledge and experience. It happens, we are human, but it’s not a strategy.
I’ve observed more often than I can count, leaders who come to me and complain that their direct reports aren’t “owning it” and are constantly coming to them for questions they should be able to answer themselves. I ask them “what do you do when they come with the questions” and, guess what? Almost all of them Say that they immediately answer the question!
When you answer the question you are indirectly triggering the behaviour of;
If I know you’re going to answer it, why would I spend time figuring it out for myself?
I urge you to observe how many questions you default to answering when you could instead ask “what do you think?”
I’ve even found myself saying to my teammates “I know you know the answer to this.” or “how much time have you spent thinking about the answer, come back to me when you’ve spent "x” minutes on it".
Use the coach approach to get your teams conditioned to doing the thinking.
I’ve noticed that the more tired I am, the worse I am as a coach, as the effort it takes to NOT answer is huge. Practice holding back and have a cheat sheet of open-ended questions at the ready.
- Walk me through your thinking to using that approach.
- How will that impact others on the team?
- What have you tried so far?
- Google it.
The key difference between a “pure” coach and a manager using a coach approach is that the manager can, and should, steer when a teammate’s approach may put them in serious risk. Unlike a coach, a manager is responsible for the output of the team. A manager using a coach approach will find that the team will be more engaged, empowered and produce high quality work.
You got this.