Management and Leadership Series Posted by Nicola Maxwell

Recent research from Zenger Folkman showed that leaders who are highly effective coaches have employees who are almost eight times more engaged than employees who work for leaders classed as ineffective coaches. One of our clients reported that departments within their firm where the partner adopts a coaching style of leadership also have higher retention, more satisfied clients and are more profitable.

If coaching is such a powerful way to lead and motivate people, why do so many people leaders fail to incorporate it into their daily interactions with those around them?

From our experience in working with people leaders there are three misconceptions that get in the way:

1. “Coaching just takes so much time!”

In many of the organisations that we work in people leaders also have a functional role, whether that be as a fund manager, lawyer, accountant or something similar. As a result, their work is demanding and their time is precious.

Coaching is wrongly perceived as something that is always planned, diarized and structured. This could be the case on some occasions, but most of the time coaching occurs spontaneously, such as when you are asked a question, confronted with a problem or when someone expresses difficulty in completing a task.

This is when leaders can help their direct reports find solutions and answers for themselves through instant coaching, which may only take a few minutes.

Over the long term, this results in people who are less dependent on someone else to provide all the answers.

2. “It’s quicker and easier for me to tell them what to do!”

People leaders convince themselves that by telling someone what to do or by providing them with all the answers it’s quick and efficient. That’s true. At least, it is in the short term. In the long term, it’s costly, time consuming and inefficient.

Why? Firstly, recall is significantly lower when someone has been “told” what to do as opposed to being helped to work out the solution for themselves. If people are coached they don’t tend to come back to you with the same questions and will more likely work on their own initiative.

The second problem is one of ownership. If you provide the answer, you unconsciously own the problem. Shift the ownership and empower your people to own and find answers to their own challenges. You then have people who own problems and take responsibility for them.

3. “My people are too busy!”

Everyone seems to be busy and yet we’re all still looking for the chance to develop and grow. According to the Centre for Creative Leadership, 70% of our learning should come from day-to-day tasks, challenges and experiences. Coaching is a great way to create real-time, highly relevant learning experiences for people.

Coaching also provides a method to ensure the individual applies knowledge or skills they have learnt on training courses. It can also help avoid ‘learning fade’; where learning from a course is quickly forgotten once back in the role.

This results in a team of people who are growing and developing on the job.

At edoMidas, we address these three issues in the following ways:

1. Firstly, coaching is trained as an integral part of management development and not as a separate training event. Running a “coaching course” is good for anyone who will work as a full time coach. For managers however this only serves to confirm coaching as something extra to do.

2. Secondly, when training managers and leaders in coaching, we bring to their attention the different opportunities to coach and encourage people leaders to build ‘instant coaching’ into their approach so they get quicker and more frequent opportunities to practice their coaching skills. Most coaching opportunities are unplanned and reactive, responding to real problems.

3. Thirdly, when coaching is planned, we encourage people leaders to look for the right time to coach. Coaching is best done when things are important, but not too urgent, so it doesn’t feel like there is a massive pressure on people’s time. In order to ensure that this proactive coaching is a success we stress the importance of and explain why developing peoples strengths is the key to success.

Notice the opportunities that arise for you to coach your people and test the water by asking a few questions.

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