Leadership vs Management Page 5Authors: Byron and Catherine Pulsifer, ©2016
We have previously discussed some expectations that employees may have about their coach. Here are a few more expectations that people expect from their coach. It is critical that a coach remembers that the people who he/she leads are the number one priority.
Holds the team accountable
A good coach will hold my team accountable for both their actions and their results.
Keeps the team informed
A good coach passes on information quickly. They do not hold back information that affects my job. There is nothing worse than finding out information from another area or person that my coach should have told me.
The ability to admit mistakes is a quality that is admired by people. Admitting the mistake but moving forward and not brooding over the mistake. The ability to try other ways if one way doesn't work is vital. The coach will back up and reload.
"One thing is for sure. We have to do something. We have to do the best we know how at the moment. If it doesn't turn out right, we can modify it as we go along."
Franklin D. Roosevelt
A good coach encourages the same type of resilience in the people they work with. They encourage them to take risks. If the risk results in failure, they help all people to learn from the mistake and then go on to try another way.
"If you want to succeed you should strike out on new paths rather than travel the worn paths of accepted success."
John D. Rockefeller, Jr.
A good coach gives others opportunity to take initiative. The values and boundaries are communicated by the coach, and the coach allows people to try different ideas within those boundaries and values.
A good coach follows through on promises. They do what they say they are going to do.
They are honest and open. For example, if they don't know the answer, they will tell you that, but they will also find the answer and get back to you.
Challenges in Adopting a Coaching Style
Now, let's turn our attention to the person who takes over in a coaching relationship with a team.
As with everything else in life, you will face challenges. To be truthful, if you believe you will not face challenges in the role as a coach you would be wrong. The test for every coach, however, is how they respond to these challenges. Make no mistake, as you change your leadership style to that of a coach you will find, in very demanding and stressful times that you will feel compelled to manage a situation rather than lead through it.
There will be times when you question the reason you are using a coaching style. However, you must at all times keep the long term benefits of being a coach at the forefront of your mind. You must stay focused on the end result. As William Channing once said, "Difficulties are meant to rouse, not discourage."
Here are some examples of some of the challenges you will face.
Many times, as people change their style, they get caught up in thinking this is not working because if I did the task myself I could do it a lot faster. This mindset, however, is a short tem view. Yes, in the beginning it will slow you down. But, in the long run, by taking the time to teach and assist people today, you will be saving yourself time tomorrow. In the near future, they will have developed the skills that you have taught them and make their own decisions. Bear in mind, however, people still expect you to make decisions People will keep bringing decisions to you to be made rather than making the decisions themselves.
The best way to handle this is to give them no answers to their questions. The person may just need to gain a little confidence. By discussing the issue with you, they gain the confidence to make the decision on their own.
When asked a question, always respond with, "What do you think?" Once they give you the answer, ask them, "why did you bring it to me? You knew the right answer all along."
If their response is not what you would have done, consider their response. If it is an acceptable one and gets the job done without violating any policy, keep your opinion to yourself. If their response was not acceptable, then ask questions to get them to look at the situation in a different light. But, never give them the answer. Let them identify the answer themselves - that's how they learn!
As previously mentioned, coaching takes time, it takes involvement, and it takes understanding and patience. Again, staying focused on the end result will allow you to overcome this challenge. Remember the words of Abraham Lincoln, "Nothing valuable can be lost by taking time."
Sometimes, one of the hardest issues with coaching is letting go of making all or most of the decisions. Not doing everything by yourself is going to be your challenge, but instead you must learn to rely on other people. Ultimately, however, you are responsible. If you continue to hang on to tasks or issues, then you are not developing your people. They are not learning from you. Elbert Hubbard said, "The greatest mistake a person can make is to be afraid of making one."
Team members still focusing on processes rather than on results
You have to continually reinforce the bigger picture. There has to be a lot of discussion to help people move their thinking from one of "process" to that of "results". Individual meetings and group meetings help move people just by discussing the end result.
Developing a consensus
Some people will resist the idea of consensus. They want to be told what to do. They do not want to be part of the process; they do not want to be accountable for the project or the decision should something go wrong. At this point, you must reinforce that it is everyone's responsibility. No longer do we work in an environment where one individual is solely responsible. Reinforce the team concept.
Examples can often provide words of wisdom: When I first started coaching, I had an experience that caught me off guard. The person told me it was not their job; it was management's job and that I was not doing my job.
You will hear comments like that and it takes a lot of patience to listen to the comment and then positively explain. (On the positive side, at least the person felt safe enough to voice their comment to my face rather than behind my back!) The best way to deal with comments like this is to ask questions (rather than trying to explain). So my first question was, "who understands this issue more?" Of course the employee was the expert not me. Then, my next question was, "Who pays all of our salaries". The answer, after some discussion was, "the customer who buys our products." Next question was, "if you are the expert in this field, and the consumer ultimately pays your salary, then who should be responsible for handling this issue?"
By the time we were finished the employee walked away satisfied, but more importantly, they realized the importance of their role and their contribution. The one thing to realize is this situation is that conversation took about 30 minutes, I could have made the decision in about 5 minutes! But my focus is on the next situation that employee will not bring it to me; they will make the decision. So in the long run I saved myself a lot of time and at the same time empowered the employee to use the knowledge and experience they had.
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