Leadership, in and of itself, is complex!

There are so many different ways that leadership is defined. On top of requiring specific competencies that must be gained and maintained, people who believe in you must have similar enough values to want to follow you.

And You Have to Coach Them, Too?

It’s a resounding yes to that question! As a leader, you have the opportunity to mold and shape others for success by providing useful insight, rock solid guidance, and building and nurturing relationships.

Coaching is a way to get more out of an individual than even the individual thinks is possible. As in the Path-Goal leadership theory, the coach assists in exploring paths so employees may decide which way to go, and helps to remove roadblocks that are hindering employees from achieving their desired outcome.

Create the Foundation

There are aspects of coaching that must be properly set between the leader/coach and the “coachee”, which includes creating the foundation for the relationship and communicating effectively. This is done through several areas:

  • Establishing mutual trust and respect
  • Creating a safe environment for open discussion
  • Facilitating the discussion
  • Actively listening
  • Challenging the individual through tough questions to encourage reflection
  • Establishing Trust and Respect

The most important area to establish is mutual trust and respect for one another. Both must be earned and cannot be demanded or expected. This may take some time to develop, so patience is important to nurture the relationship.

However, once mutual trust and respect is established, usually the communication between leader and follower becomes more comfortable and open.

Create a Safe Environment

Knowing that the information between coach and coached is confidential is of utmost importance. Ensuring that discussions take place in a space that is mutually acceptable to both parties goes a long way to adding to the comfort of the conversation.

Facilitate the Discussion

As the coach, your job is not to tell the individual what to do, but lead the discussion toward their revelation of change or decision-making direction. This provides ownership for the individual and allows them to think creatively and thoughtfully regarding problem-solving and opportunity.

Listen Actively

Listen actively. What exactly does that mean? There are several aspects to active listening. Displaying that you are paying attention means being attentive by sitting up straight and having an open body posture, having good eye contact, avoiding distractions, and being aware of your non-verbal communication, as well as, watching theirs.

Show that you are listening by nodding, and provide inviting comments that communicate you are interested. Giving feedback by paraphrasing, summarizing, and asking clarifying questions confirms your interest and shows you understand what they are saying.

Ask Tough Questions

Asking challenging and powerful questions creates a thought-provoking atmosphere and a spirited discussion. The goal with asking powerful questions is to reveal areas of interest or concern for the individual, provide thought clarity, and create opportunity for inward thought and better self-awareness. All questions should be open-ended starting with who, what, when, where, why, to avoid one word answers from the individual being coached.

Once the relationship is established and there is progress on a way ahead, setting goals and managing progress are two follow-up areas.

Goals should be both attainable and measurable with specific milestones to gauge progress during follow-up sessions. Managing progress and being accountable for that progress is a mutual responsibility of both coach and coachee.

Asking questions, assessing what has been completed or learned since the last session, what decisions were made, and what the outcomes were are all areas to be managed in subsequent follow-up sessions.

Coaching for Success

Coaching others for success is both rewarding and satisfying, not only for the coachee, but for the coach as well.

Determining the way ahead by setting goals and managing progress helps to ensure success. Seeing an individual transform to a successful and confident individual with direction and assurance is truly worth the effort. It is one of the many responsibilities of the leader, and one where the reward for the individual, and the organization can be immeasurable.

How Does Coaching Help?

If you have ideas that you feel like sharing that might be helpful to readers, share them in the comments section below. Thanks!

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Dr. Greg Halpern
Greg is a performance improvement consultant with the DoD. He holds a M.S. Degree in Applied Behavioral Science from Johns Hopkins, and a PhD in Organization Management with an emphasis on Leadership from Capella University.