Many of the best leaders also act in the role of coach for their teams and company. It is a critical position that requires the implication of both assertive and passive management techniques. Leaders who have worked with executive coaches themselves, understand that individuals do not always need direct instruction in order to perform well. There are a number of coaching skills that leaders who wish to develop and inspire their teams in achieving their goals, may learn to include in their own management practices.
For leadership development programs to be successful, participants should be placed in an environment that provides support and encourages honesty and vulnerability. Being equally as vulnerable with participants, demonstrates a leader’s commitment to developing a coaching culture that reduces power imbalances which may make individuals hesitant to share their personal experiences. When adopting a coaching style of leadership, a mutual level of trust must be established to allow the person who is being coached to feel confident in making significant decisions.
The best leadership coaches understand that their primary role is to guide others through the decision making process without imposing their own agenda. Executive coaching programs are most effective when a collaborative relationship is established. The coached individual should be given the permission to dictate the focus of the coaching session. Let them decide which goals to work on and even methods for improving. Experienced coaches will of course be able to provide knowledgeable advice on a number of topics, but for the participant to get the most benefit, they must be afforded the opportunity to make the ultimate decision for themselves.
For most people, personal and professional growth occurs when they are able to reflect on their past experiences and are open to learning from them. By analysing what has worked well and what has not, leaders and potential leaders develop a deeper understanding of their own strengths and weaknesses. Assessment tools like the Hogan 360º Report are often used prior to beginning executive coaching programs to provide a clear indication of which areas the participant most needs to improve. Regular reflection should be a component of the ongoing coaching sessions as a means of tracking the individual’s progress. Using tools like the Actionable Habit Builder provides further support to help the person who is being coached to reflect in their own time privately, and this tool also allows the coach to post comment, challenge and encourage along the way.
In a culmination of the above three skills, establishing a culture of growth within your organisation can result in a more open and collaborative team. What we have so far discussed can be focused on singular instances where decisions need to be made or mistakes have occurred. By coaching the individual through a mistake rather than punishing them, you provide them with an opportunity for growth. When you conduct leadership coaching for cultural change, you create an environment that reduces fear of failure and encourages experiential learning.
One important and effective coaching strategy that leaders should engage with is that of adaptive communication. This means knowing when to be active or direct in your approach, and when to back off and let the coachee take the lead. Communication is the most versatile coaching and leadership skills at your disposal. Passive communication like listening and asking questions, help coaches to understand concerns and receive information. Active communication is used to move processes forward and to deliver feedback.
Incorporating coaching skills into other leadership styles can have a greatly positive impact on individuals within a company. Using coaching skills to develop high performers and potential leaders creates a workplace culture that demonstrates a value in gaining experience as a means of education. The organisation becomes an environment where learning and development is built into day-to-day practices, and mistakes are seen as opportunities for growth.
For more information about The Leadership Sphere and how we can help you unlock performance through leadership, by supporting your leaders at every level of the organisation with leadership development, executive coaching and high performance team programs please visit our website or call us on 1300 100 857.