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Leaders as Coaches

Coaching plays a crucial role in keeping people engaged and committed. It brings out the best in them and helps remove obstacles to their success. Coaching is not about telling people what to do or how to do it; rather, you help people discover their own paths by encouraging and questioning. Help eliminate their roadblocks by asking questions like: With which past projects did you struggle? What steps will you take to achieve your goals? What excuses are you making? What’s holding you back? What have you tried since the last time we talked? Open-ended questions make people think through obstacles. And coaching shows that you care and are willing to share yourself with them.

Use coaching to enhance the capabilities and performance of leaders, high-potential employees, and top producers. When leaders coach, people become more confident and motivated, which leads to higher performance and productivity. Leaders build relationships of trust when they support people to be all that they can be.

Organizations with a strong coaching culture develop higher engagement and performance. A coach asks: What are my people’s strengths? What are their goals, their ambitions, their technical and managerial limits? At what do they excel? What are their weaknesses, their potential, their limitations, their directions? A coach works one-on-one with key employees to stop bad habits and start positive ones. Participants can discuss what’s working, and not working, in confidence, and the coach holds them accountable and supplies support.

Coaching increases productivity, builds teamwork, motivates employees to elevate performance levels and helps them overcome obstacles to success. A great leader spends time working with individuals to see the blocks in their performances. A successful leader and effective coach are one in the same. People do not and will not change until they see the need to. A good coach listens to people to find ways to break down the barriers that keep them from reaching their full potential. They work with their people to outline a plan of action that clearly states the goals for improvement and accountability. Coaching helps people learn, grow, and change. It provides a powerful structure through which people can focus on specific outcomes, become more effective, and stay on track.

Coaching requires you to master three skills: questioning that leads to understanding, structuring jobs correctly, and providing positive reinforcement.

Effective questioning opens the door to understanding what’s on people’s minds. When you’re coaching somebody, ask open-ended questions that cannot be answered with a yes or no. You want the person you’re coaching to think about the answer. However, managers need to ask the right questions … questions that help employees realize their strengths, their failings, their needs and how they can best contribute to their organizations, and by extension to their abilities. Great coaches know the answers even when employees don’t.

Armed with that knowledge, great coaches structure jobs and work environments that allow each individual to flourish. They provide resources and training. They continually monitor progress and provide feedback, knowing when to encourage but also when to be brutally honest.

Praise and recognition for a job well done is often the positive reinforcement that works wonders. Outstanding leaders go out of their way to boost the self-esteem of their employees. If people believe in themselves it’s amazing what they can accomplish, so give them well-deserved praise.

In closing, coaching opens lines of communication to create a comfortable environment where performance issues can be discussed freely and without defensiveness. Leaders who are effective coaches have more successful teams, higher morale and, in most cases, better bottom-line results. The benefits of coaching include improved trust and morale, improved performance, skill development, innovation, productivity, confidence, motivation, better customer service, higher retention of key people, less stress, and applied potential.

Jeff Wolf

Jeff Wolf is one of America’s foremost executive business coaches, speakers and management consultants. In December 2010, prestigious Leadership Excellence Magazine named him one of the Top 100 Thought Leaders for his accomplishments in leadership development, managerial effectiveness and organizational productivity. His strategic focus on solving corporate and human issues has garnered continuing raves from myriad global organizations. Jeff can be reached at: (858) 638-8260 and jeff@wolfmotivation.com.

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Filed Under: Featured StoriesPersonal Development

About the Author: Jeff Wolf is one of America’s foremost executive business coaches, speakers and management consultants. In December 2010, prestigious Leadership Excellence Magazine named him one of the Top 100 Thought Leaders for his accomplishments in leadership development, managerial effectiveness and organizational productivity. His strategic focus on solving corporate and human issues has garnered continuing raves from myriad global organizations. Jeff can be reached at: (858) 638-8260 and jeff@wolfmotivation.com.

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