As leaders progress through their careers, they develop a variety of skills through experience and education that serve their growing professional demands. Unfortunately though, unless a leader is lucky enough to have been effectively coached at some point in their careers, they probably have not been exposed to sufficient development opportunities to equip them with the skills needed to conduct productive coaching conversations and maintain ongoing coaching relationships.

While experienced leaders are usually proficient in things like navigating complex stakeholder environments and allocating resources (including human resources) to address business priorities, you must not overlook how the development of coaching skills can benefit leaders and employees, alike.

So what do leaders need to keep in mind when coaching in the workplace? Here are a few things to remember:

Coaching should be based in the style of the person being coached.

“Give feedback for the receivers’ sake, not your own,” said Doug Upchurch, innovation strategist at Insights Learning. This quote refers to the idea that coaching should be based on the needs of the recipient, not the coach. To do this, coaches must first have a heightened sense of self-awareness and an understanding of how they can be perceived by others. From this level of self-understanding, coaches can begin to recognize the interpersonal preferences of their coaching recipients and adapt their coaching style accordingly.

Coaching is not a transfer of information, but a conversation.

An important coaching tip leaders should remember is that coaching is not just a transfer of information from coach to recipient, but a conversation. Coaching conversations should have a cadence where both parties are asking questions, providing insight into their perspective and experience and developing a plan for the future that both parties are invested in.

“Coaching is a conversation, a dialogue, whereby the coach and the individual interact in a dynamic exchange to achieve goals, enhance performance and move the individual forward to greater success,” said coaching experts, Perry Zeus and Suzanne Skiffington.

To enable these conversations to occur, coaches must remember that they need to listen to the people they are coaching and create an environment where a coaching recipient feels comfortable enough to be vulnerable about the areas they need help in.

Coaching can help leaders manage their teams more effectively, if they listen carefully.

Coaching conversations create a dynamic where leaders get increased visibility of issues their team members are struggling with. This visibility allows leaders to stave off issues before they become unwieldy and out of control. Essentially, coaching allows leaders to glean insights about their team’s operations and morale that they wouldn’t receive otherwise, which helps them manage their team’s priorities in a more effective way.

“The goal of coaching is the goal of good management: to make the most of an organization’s valuable resources,” said James Waldroop and Timothy Butler of Harvard Business Review.

Through coaching conversations, leaders can more easily identify development opportunities for their employees and make informed decisions about how they allocate their team’s strengths and weaknesses to the team’s business priorities.

Like all other leadership skills and tools, professionals should remember that coaching is a tool that can help managers empower their employees to reach for new levels of effectiveness in achievable and sustainable increments.

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