Coaching is a game-changer. You might be an experienced executive. Maybe you are new to your job. Or maybe you are just working on your golf swing. Whatever you do and whatever your goals, having a coach to mirror back what you are doing and helping you reframe your approach can be all you need to take your performance to the next level.
Now think about the people who work for you. What could it mean to bring out the best in those folks? What could it mean for your team or your company, and specifically for them? For you as their leader, the skill of coaching is a game-changer!
My favorite coaching resource is Coaching for Performance by John Whitmore. He says, “Coaching is unlocking people’s potential to maximize their own performance.” He describes how we are like acorns. Each acorn contains within it all the potential to be a magnificent oak tree. Whitmore says, “We need nourishment, encouragement and the light to reach toward, but the oaktreeness is already within us.” He recognizes that coaching is a game-changer.
In my mind, it comes down to the coach’s ATTITUDE, APPROACH, and ABILITY TO ADAPT. These are the qualities that set apart the mediocre coaches from the most powerfully effective coaches. Here are some considerations for you as you work to develop this critical leadership skill:
Game-Changing Tip 1: Choose an optimistic ATTITUDE.
We can and should assume that most people want to do well. Whitmore says, “To get the best out of people, we have to believe the best is in there – but how do we know it is, how much is there, and how do we get it out?” Our beliefs about the capability of others have a direct impact on their performance. “To use coaching successfully we have to adopt a far more optimistic view than usual of the dormant capability of all people.”
Game-Changing Tip 2: Broaden your APPROACH.
Leaders must learn how to effectively create a coaching environment, understand the person they are coaching, and tailor their coaching skills to most effectively influence the individual that they are coaching. Each of us view the world through filters based on our experiences, values, and assumptions. They either limit what we see (like tunnel vision) or expand it (like a prism). We most likely unconsciously developed these filters throughout our lives, and they significantly impact how we perceive things. This ultimately affects how we show up in different situations and could even be holding us back from realizing the full potential in all facets of our life (relationships, family, career, etc.). Understanding this about human nature, and applying what Bruce Schneider calls Energy Leadership, an effective coach can guide the individual they are coaching to be more effective, impactful, productive, and influential.
Game-Changing Tip 3: Hone your ABILITY TO ADAPT.
This requires deepening your active listening skills. You want to hear what is being said, but also notice what is not being said. You want to be able to discern which question to ask next, and the only way to adapt properly is to listen. For example, where is the other person hesitating? What is the energy level of the person and how can questions engage them to increase their energy level? When should you probe deeper? Where does the conversation need to go next? We only know how and when to pivot if we are actively listening.
Coaching is a game-changer!
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