In order to be an effective leader in today’s world, one needs support and development. Rarely, if ever, is someone magically “a brilliant leader” out of the box. According to the Sheffield Leadership Survey, issues around staff and performance (23%) were a concern for young leaders under 50. So the message is clear, it’s important we continue to support and develop our leaders – because when organisations get “leadership” right, they are 2.3 times more likely to outperform other companies on financial metrics.
A good way to do this is through coaching. The aim of coaching is to support people to learn and develop, therefore enhancing their ability to achieve more of their untapped potential. In the work environment, a useful coaching approach is to ask lots of questions of the person in the moment, support and stretch their thinking, getting them to reflect on what they are doing. We often refer to this approach as “seeking” rather than “telling” (or directing). This approach empowers individuals - encouraging them to think for themselves and to take responsibility for their actions. It’s also a powerful tool for building employee engagement.
Coaching doesn’t have to be a long and complicated exercise and you don’t have to remember to use a complex model. Wherever possible, look for naturally occurring opportunities where coaching can be carried out in a spontaneous “in the moment” kind of way, rather than through a more formal coaching session. These become “coaching conversations” and are much more effective when they’re short in length, carried out in real time and on the go. These types of conversations seem obvious and have demonstrably benefited younger people. We hear stories about the Gen Z’s who appreciate a quick text about their performance after they’ve done something great, instead of waiting around for a more formal conversation sometime in the future.
Some people find the concept of coaching a bit daunting, but the good news is that we’re not suggesting that you as a leader, are the sole coach for all. We think that creating an environment whereby coaching occurs by others as well (eg. managers, colleagues, teams, external people) is highly beneficial.
According to the Center for Creative Leadership, in order to instill a creative culture, three key steps are required:
1. Make the case for coaching by allowing some of your ‘key influencers’ to experience its power.
In other words, don’t just talk about what coaching is, ensure your influencers get to experience it first hand with their everyday challenges in the workplace.
2. Integrate coaching as a core element of your talent and leadership development strategy.
Before trying to embed coaching in your culture, start by integrating coaching in your leadership and talent development framework. Embed coaching in some of your leadership programs for targeted populations, like high potentials, senior managers, and senior experts.
3. Equip leaders with coaching skills.
The ideal situation arises when business leaders and HR professionals have coaching skills and a coaching mindset on their own. Contrary to popular belief, coaching isn’t exclusively for development purposes — it’s also for everyday challenges.