How would you define coaching and how would you rate yourself in your current coaching abilities?
This is a thought-starter question we at Rockstar Workforce ask leaders at the beginning of our workshop focused on developing the skills and Leadership Mechanics™ of effective coaching. Common answers participants give at the start of the workshop range from breaking down processes into clear steps to providing clear experience-based solutions to problems. These answers reflect the research of common misconceptions about what coaching actually entails.
The good news is, if you’re interested in improving your coaching skills, making a small but powerful mindset shift coupled with intentional practice will probably help you to make considerable improvements in a very short amount of time. It will also take a lot of pressure off of you as the leader, because the biggest secret to effective coaching means that you do not have to have all of the answers! While everyone can agree that active listening skills is a key ingredient to good coaching, advice giving and solution providing are surprisingly not characteristics of a quality coaching session. In fact, the hardest thing about learning how to coach well is breaking the habit of being the problem solver – a role most leaders believe they are obligated to fill.
Break The Habit Of Being The Problem-Solver
A great coach helps others figure out what it is they actually want while supporting them in discovering their own solutions to the problems they want to solve or the changes they want to make. This is why listening is the key ingredient along with learning how to ask intuitive, open-ended questions that allow the other person to explore the options, craft a plan, and then offer accountability to support them in following through with their insights.
While the mind-set shift is a simple one, the practice of implementing it can be a humbling process. Attempting to break the habit of providing advice (whether it’s directly elicited or not), or offering experience-based anecdotes of how you solved a similar problem can be surprisingly difficult to break. When you first try to implement the approach in simulated coaching conversations, it might feel like a game of red light green light. You may keep cutting yourself short from asking leading questions designed to point your team-member to your own pre-determined solutions and replace them with open-ended questions that encouraged them to discover their own answers. Sometimes they might land in the same place you do, and other times they surprised you with plans that were even better than the ones you would have offered.
Over time, though, it does get easier and the outcomes are worth the effort!
Coaching Beyond the Workplace
Our facilitators and talent strategists find it exciting to hear back from workshop participants the ways they have experienced improved relationships and empowered their direct reports to become better problem solvers by utilizing this approach. It’s fantastic to see how effective it is at home as well. Think 9 and 12 year olds no longer expecting mom to keep track of items x, y and z on a daily basis. Kids quickly learn to stop asking “Do you know where my _____ is?” when they discover you have stopped telling them the answers and are now asking them to think critically instead. And yes, the kids actually do end up finding the things they are looking for in the end so they are gaining personal skills through the process.
If you’re intrigued by this concept and would like to learn more about how to be an effective coach, Rockstar Workforce would love to work with you and your team! Our RealTime Coaching™ workshop introduces the full approach along with additional strategies on ways to counter common coaching road-blocks. Click here to learn more about our programs and see how we can help your coaching needs.
Improve your coaching skills before your next 1:1 session by downloading this simple framework: