A true leader inspires people to do great things for the company. That inspiration comes from a softer, more caring side of a leader called coaching.
Coaching focuses on creating great results through a company's most valuable asset -- people. Coaching is the humanistic path to leading others and requires different skills than managing.
Real coaching takes place one person at a time, face-to-face, without ever raising your voice.
People typically don't come to work with the company goals on their mind. They come with deeper concerns, like their personal challenges, goals and relationship problems. People come to work wondering if they will find support, appreciation, opportunities and meaningful work to do. They come hoping for some semblance of a family away from home.
Organizational life is not always like a family. It is focused on making money, maintaining stability, and compliance. For some, it can feel more like job prison, especially for those who don't enjoy their work. As a result, people often don't go out of their way to take risks, offer new ideas, be creative or show courage at the office. Many are just putting in the time.
As leaders, the most important question we can ask is how can we make work more fulfilling, more joyful and more empowering so that our people can achieve their potential while helping to advance the goals of the organization? The answer to this question may require us, at times, to become more of a coach than a boss.
Here are a few coaching ideas to get you started:
* Put people first. The most important investment you can make is in your people. The carrot-and-stick approach doesn't work if we want people to accomplish great things at work. We need a more humanistic approach that places people over profit.
Coaching places the emphasis on the person and will not only make work more enjoyable for everyone, it will enable people to achieve more, creating more profit.
* Orchestrate development opportunities. When we stop learning, we stop growing. A great coach keeps both the developmental interests of people and the organizational goals in mind. Build organizational support to reward learning and remove barriers. Help people formulate developmental goals. Provide challenging opportunities by being creative and proactive about assignments. Help them see the bigger picture, a connection between a vision of the organization and their own life.
* Build a team environment. Many work environments are filled with negative punitive terms such as probation, verbal warning, performance management. We need to move away from the urge to constantly evaluate, rank and rate people at work.
When people are forced to compete, we end up with winners and losers. Help people feel valued at work with a trusting environment and open communication. Actively foster teamwork and collaboration and value the contributions of all team members. When a team pulls together, it usually wins.
* Be ready to coach. A crisis, career development discussion, a decision to be made, confusing goals, or peer relationship issues are all are good reasons to put on your coaching hat.
Coaching is not oriented toward solution giving, opinion giving, driving them or asking why something is not working.
Coaching behavior starts with having the person's best interests at heart. Coaching is about listening a lot, working together and keeping the focus on the individual, the team and their needs. It is providing support, motivation, guidance and encouragement.
* Focus on positive feedback. Positive feedback is the breakfast of champions. Catching people doing things right is a powerful leadership tool.
Coaching requires regular communicating with followers, asking better questions, focusing more on what is working instead of what is not working. When managers only focus on fixing problems, they find more problems and waste time on problems that don't need to be fixed. People aren't broken, but the systems that they work under can be.
* Celebrate wins together. Celebrate wins, big and small, with rewards and recognition and increased responsibilities and authority. Coach employees to picture themselves as winners. Give credit where credit is due, and share the spotlight of success with the whole team. Team success and individual success are synonymous.
Coaching is about empowering people to make better decisions, solve more challenges on their own and have better relationships along the way. Coaching is about assuming that all people have the resources they need to be successful. Great coaching lets people step back to look at a situation from a new perspective and to imagine new possibilities.
Coaching can make a big difference in your organization. Focus on your people. Share their triumphs and their concerns. Inspire them to greater performance. Reward them with lavish praise. Savor their achievements.
Brad Larsen is a life coach and corporate consultant from Northern Utah. He can be reached at email@example.com.