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It is essential for today’s management to adopt a coaching mind-set

It is essential for today’s management to adopt a coaching mind-set

The working environment has changed over the last twenty years and still continues to do so. What was an acceptable and appropriate leadership style ten years ago is outdated today on both an organisational and an employee level. The time is long gone where leaders could tell their staff what to do, make all the decisions for them, and micro-manage how and when people perform their tasks.

Companies have recognised that innovative, out-of-the-box thinking will make them survive as well as outperform their competitors, and changing the working culture from a stoic authoritarian to a more transparent, fair and dynamic style is certainly a positive and supportive step for their employees. Further flattening the organisational hierarchy structure allows for information to flow faster, freely and more accurately; thereby implementing effective employee engagement and well-being strategies that support and encourage people to be creative in solving today’s working challenges.

Employees are responding positively, albeit sometimes hesitantly, to the change of having permission to actively contribute to finding solutions. Their voices have been stifled for so long that there is doubt and uncertainty if this is for real. Managers play a crucial role in encouraging innovative thinking, employee participation and active voicing of ideas through their leadership styles.

If managers want to remain relevant and be promoted, adopting a coaching mind-set will be of tremendous value to their career and their team’s performance. This will be seen when they encourage employees to think for themselves, make their own decisions and be accountable for their actions. Of course, things won’t always go according to plan, and that is where managers have to shift from a “tell and fix-it” mind-set to a coaching mind-set. A coaching mind-set is built on the foundation of inquiry, listening, questioning and trusting. Let’s explore each one in more depth.

Inquiry: To gather all the facts and establish what happened and what didn’t, without jumping to conclusions or making assumptions. Equally to not judge the person or situation. Remaining neutral, open-minded and detached are learned behaviours that take time to master. Think of it as being a detective who has to find all the facts in a “murder” mystery. The obvious person isn’t necessarily always the murder. During your investigation, you make lots of enquiries, and people will tell you what you need and want to hear. You must be able to see the bigger picture and not be roped into the story.

Listening: To hear and learn something new, which differs from listening to have a fact confirmed. When you listen for what is not being said, you have to focus and tune into the other person’s communication wave length, acutely focusing on their body language, tone of voice, use of words, facial expressions and, hand gestures. In the same process observing yourself and understanding your listening intent, periodically checking in that you remain open-minded, curious and non-judgemental.

Questioning: If the inquiry and listening steps have been done well, the third step may come a lot easier. But a question doesn’t always equal a question. The art to questioning is to formulate your questions in such a way that they get information and an understanding of the person’s thought process. Being curious without blame or accusation is the ideal balance. Reframing from posing closed questions that can be answered with either a yes or no doesn’t help us to get a better understanding of why a person did what they did. The question and listening phase is a gentle dance that continues until an inspiring solution or a new idea forms.

Trusting: The final stage is trusting that through the manager’s enquiry, listening and guided questioning, the employee has established where in their thought process or behaviour they have gone off course, and have identified how to deal with the problem at hand. This will allow the employee to discover their shortcoming as well as how to correct it, and is intrinsically motivating for the employee. In addition, it encourages them to deepen their thinking and find solutions to current working challenges.

Coaching is a very powerful tool that managers can learn and master so that they can drive employee commitment, accountability and job satisfaction. External coach training schools provide excellent in-depth training; however. these may be more appropriate for individuals wishing to pursue a permanent coaching career. There are also many well-written books which cover this topic.

You could also get in touch with us – we are well-equipped to train and instil a coaching mind-set for your managers and your company.

Delegating is a Leadership Skill

Delegating is a Leadership Skill

We all know the feeling where we’re drowning in the amount of work we have. We’re not sure where to start, what to do first or leave for later because everything seems to be urgent and important. We wish we could clone ourselves but know that that’s not possible. Could someone else assist? Sure thing, but we would first need to explain it to them and that is time consuming. Also, they won’t do it up to our standards which means we will have to do it all over. In the end it’s all up to me! Sound like a familiar conversation you have with yourself?

Why many people struggle to delegate a leadership skill 

Delegating is a leadership skill many people battle with. We either have some assumptions on the subject or have endured negative past experiences that makes us cautious. Often we believe that we’re the only ones to do the job perfectly and that nobody is able to meet our standards. It may be so and it may not be, but either way you are holding yourself back from growing your skills and even hindering your career advancement. Why do I say that? Because when we aim for perfection we get into such an intense level of detail that others don’t necessarily value or notice. We lose valuable time crafting the perfect document, plan, presentation or speech which slows us down. Think of delegating as the balance between giving enough space to demonstrate your ability.

The second aspect we get stuck on is time. It will take too long for us to explain what needs to be done and in that time we could actually do it ourselves. This might be true in the initial stages because it will take more time, especially if it’s the very first time a person is performing the task. If we think about it, we most likely didn’t get through the activity right the first time either. But with repetitive doing and making mistakes we learnt to master the task. We need to remember this and provide leadership training, mentoring and support to the person that will speed up the mastery process and give us time for other new challenges.

Not every task can be delegated, especially if they require your expert skills and knowledge. Sometimes we can delegate a portion of a task instead of the entire task. Commonly we can delegate tasks that are routine and of an administrative nature. The regularity of the task allows a person to master it quickly.

Let’s hypothesise for a moment. Imagine you’re forced to take your annual leave all in one month without interruptions. You’re not able to connect via email or any mobile devices to the office. You would have to plan all your tasks and determine based on skill, knowledge, ability and attitude which of your colleagues would do each task. Some work will be allocated to peers, some to your senior, and some maybe to a junior employee. It may even be delegated to someone outside of your department, but you would have to find a responsible person to take over the task while you’re away. Now try the same concept with delegating and include an extra twist where you mark which work you won’t take back.

Try it out now and start growing yourself and others in the process. Contact us for more information about leadership skills development today.