There are five basic and what I believe are simple things all leaders must do to be effective coaches. Being a good leader means you practice good coaching.
The last year or so I have had my own personal kind of leadership coach. Maybe not what you would traditionally think of when you think of a leadership or management coach, but she was. My personal coach was a health coach.
I learned a lot through this experience of how a coach can really make a difference and the important value of paying someone to guide you, motivate you, help you see things you aren’t seeing and to hold you accountable. However, this experience was not all that positive.
What I learned were five things all leaders who are coaching should do.
1. Be on Time. One way to lose respect and trust quickly from those you are coaching is to consistently show up late. The message you send is “my time is more important than yours.” My coach was never on time and was up to 15 minutes late many times. As soon as it appeared she would be late again I grew agitated and didn’t feel much like talking.
2. Listen and Take Notes. And refer to those notes next time you meet with those you lead. In one meeting my coach asked me how an exercise was progressing that we never talked about. Several times she asked me how a goal I hadn’t set was going.
You may want to keep a file with important details of those you lead so when you meet with them you get it right.
3. Know Those You Lead. I never got the sense my coach really knew what I needed. Leaders must know those they lead. They must understand gaps in skills and knowledge and develop their followers towards that end. Because my coach didn’t listen very well it was hard for her to give me coaching each week on how to improve.
4. Hold Them Accountable. While the next health coaching call would often motivate me to do some of the things I had committed to, I was rarely held accountable to the specific goals I had set. Most people respond well to being held accountable.
If you neglect to bring up the goals of those you lead, most will eventually neglect to fulfill them. The goals were important to me when I initially set them, but were soon forgotten when they were never mentioned.
5. Regularly Follow Up. The only time I ever heard from my coach was when we met for our weekly call. Reminding, encouraging and checking in would have made a big difference in my progress. Do those you lead know you care?
Caring means you are checking in and encouraging those you lead on their development more than at the designated time you have set for meetings.
The above are simple to do, but how well are you doing them? What additional frustrations have you had with coaching and/or coaches? Do you have any cautions or tips you would give to a leader?
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