The Coaching Style of Leadership – Part 3

We’ve been discussing the coaching style of leadership for the past several weeks.  In this discussion I’ll provide some practical steps for how to add this leadership style to your repertoire.

The coaching style of leadership requires a great deal of personal time with your staff.  Regardless of where employees fall in the company hierarchy and variances in their leadership abilities and style, you must be willing to invest time working individually with them. You have to be available for this leadership style to be effective.

  • Rearrange your calendar to make the time for your staff.
  • Try to spend no more than 50% of your time in meetings. Set a goal for 25% of your time in meetings.
  • Spend time developing your staff, then you can start delegating meeting attendance to the lowest levels capable of representing you.

Now that you have created additional time, schedule recurring meetings with your direct reports, more frequently at first. Weekly or bi-weekly meetings are recommended to build a regular cadence. Ask your staff to lead these one-on-one meetings.  To give them a sense of responsibility, and encourage them to think proactively, ask them to prepare the agenda.  Have them identify the issues that need your attention, so they will begin to learn how to manage up, an extremely important leadership skill.

During these meetings, use the active listening skills discussed in previous blog posts.  Focus on what they need from you.  Do this by using the “Socratic method” by asking questions.  Ask open ended questions that begin with how and what and avoid asking questions that begin with who and why.  By doing this, you can avoid questions that may unintentionally sound accusatory.  Your questions should elicit conversation so that you can hear the complete story.

When your staff asks questions, try to avoid giving a direct answer or solution.  Instead, ask them what they have considered as a potential solution.  If they haven’t given much thought to the issue, you may suggest that they are not prepared to discuss it with you. If the time and situation permit, you can begin to brainstorm with them to reach an answer. If they already have some ideas, use those answers to collaborate and think of other potential solutions.

From time to time your staff will be stuck or unable to come up with the right solution.  If you have to give them an answer, spend some time with them to show them how you arrived at the answer.  Remember, if you give a person a fish, you feed them for a day, if you teach a person to fish, they feed themselves for the rest of their lives.  Make sure you are teaching your staff how to fish!

That concludes our discussion on the coaching style of leadership.  See you next week!