Coaching is today’s “must have” tool for leaders and managers. In the Harvard Business Review article entitled, “The Leader as Coach,” the authors write, “The role of the manager, in short, is becoming that of the coach.”
NOTE: You can listen to this 7-part podcast series (Click Here).
Your direct reports, co-workers, or even your teen or adult children are not looking for traditional top-down management. Everyone is looking for someone who can ask good questions and listen well.
Yes, those are the two core coaching competencies, the ability to ask good questions and the compassion to listen well.
Over the last few decades, I have had the privilege of coaching others for hundreds of hours. Sometimes a 25-30-year old will ask me. “Rick, why don’t my parents ask good questions and listen well?” Part of it is generational, and part of it is modeling. Many adults over 40 have not had parents or leaders who have asked good questions and listened well.
At almost any age, most people like talking about themselves.
Whether it is your co-worker, friend, or adult child, you can be that person who coaches well. While coaching is a set of skills, it is also a mindset. With curious compassion, you can lean into almost any conversation and explore with others their hopes, dreams, and even challenges.
In this 7-week, Coaching Tools podcast series, we will cover these topics that all begin with C.
In this series, you will hear me use the term coachee. I like this term better than client because my adult children are not my client, but they, or a friend of mine, might be a coachee.
First, we begin a coaching conversation by Connecting with Care. Let’s look at some examples:
With a co-workers this summer, I will often ask, “Any fun for you this summer?” Sometimes, people will reply with “Thanks for asking.” They might talk about a family reunion or a trip they took. That often leads to a follow-up question.
With a teen or adult child, you can ask, “What are some hopes you have for this summer.”
Remember, keep it light and focused on them. Good coaching is about the coachee, not you.
After you have connected relationally, you can then move to Clarifying the Goal. In a more formal coaching session with a co-worker, friend, or paying client, I will ask, “Where do you want to go, and how can I help?” This is a good response if someone asks you for help or advice on something. With an adult child, you could ask the question, “What do you feel like are some of your upcoming challenges.” In a more formal coaching session with a co-worker or client, you can ask, “What would be most helpful to focus on in this session.” A person might say they don’t like their job.” You could follow up by asking, “Are you looking to get this job to a better place, or are you thinking of looking for a new job?”
Once you have clarified the main topic of discussion, you can move to the third tool, which is Collaborating with Questions. In this phase of the conversation, you are exploring with the person the dynamics of what they are facing. For example, if the person says they want to look for a new job, you could ask them:
How long have they been feeling this way?
Would they like to stay in the same profession or make a change?
What would a preferred future look like?
What challenges would they face in making a change?
This Collaboration portion of the conversation is usually the main part of the session. The goal here is not to give advice or to tell them what to do. The goal here is to collaborate with them on exploring how this might play out. One person asked in a coaching training session I was leading, “What should I do when I know what they should do? Should I just tell them?” The answer is “no.” While many strategic leaders like to tell people what to do, the goal here is for the person here to take ownership of their own issues and the possible solutions.
Remember, ask good questions and listen well.
Once there seems to be some clarity on what the person is facing, you can move to the fourth tool, which is Creating a Plan Forward. If a person was thinking of looking for a new job, I might ask, “What would be some good next steps in follow-up to our conversation today.” They might say that they need to work on their resume or talk with their spouse about this. I could then say, “That sounds great. Why don’t you move forward on that two things and we can touch base again in a couple of weeks.”
Once they have clarity and ownership of their action steps, you can move to the fifth and last tool which, is Closing with Purpose. Here, I will review the time together and restate their action steps. You can take some time to get out your calendars to set the next time to talk in a couple of weeks.
Let’s review these five coaching tools again.
Connecting with Care
Clarifying the Goal
Collaborating with Questions
Creating a Plan Forward
Closing with Purpose
Next week, we will be unpacking in greater detail the first tool, which is Connecting with Care. If you would like, feel free to get a copy of my book on this, Coaching: The First Five Tools for Strategic Leaders which is available on Amazon in print, ebook, and audiobook.
More and more professionals in the workplace are looking for effective coaching by their supervisors, co-workers, or friends. You could be that important voice in the life of another. If you would like to set up a free coaching session to explore this further, feel free to email me at Rick@ClarionStrategy.com.