More than any other factor, the quality of our team will define us as leaders. To be successful we must spend an inordinate amount of time building and developing our employees. And coaching is the only way to do it right. Personal coaching is one of the most intimate and impactful components of team development.
To that end, it’s important to schedule your coaching: Make it a top priority every day. Put it on your calendar. Don’t let a crisis set you back. In the long run you will achieve the best result when you have the best team. And guess what? You are the person best positioned to build the individual competence of every member of your team.
To start, build a plan. Analyze the skills of each of your direct reports. Then decide where you would like to place the most emphasis. Big issues, obviously, will take the most time. But some coaching tips only take a couple of minutes. Plan your coaching time accordingly and maximize it. It may be your most important contribution.
Here are some more sound coaching tactics:
Attitude: Often when you hear about or observe someone with a bad attitude the real issue is something else entirely: a lack of awareness. Attitude issues seldom get better when left unattended. So don’t procrastinate. Have a direct discussion using specific examples. When confronted with facts, many people admit that they did not realize the impact their words and actions were having on people and the workplace environment. That clarity is good foundation to build on.
Recognition: You have probably heard something along the lines of “recognition is the No. 1 motivator.” While recognizing achievements or positive actions only takes only a little coaching it can be a big contributor to positive morale. A three-minute conversation can teach employees about the importance of patting other team members on the back. And it can have real impact.
Public speaking: Most people are fearful of standing in front of a group. Yet senior executives know that it is one of the most pivotal skills in business. Coaching public speaking takes time, patience and a lot of repetition. But in the long run it may be some of the most rewarding coaching you will ever do. A wise friend once told me, “Public speaking is like any other skill in life — the more you do it the better do it.”
Networking: Many people are shy about reaching out to network with others, particularly those outside the company. But it’s critical. I have seen so many business leaders grow exponentially once they learned to fly from a comfortable work nest. As a leader, it’s your job to coach about the enormous benefit that comes from meeting different people. Talk about the entire networking process, build a repertoire of conversational questions and regularly suggest fresh contacts.
Difficult conversations: It is human nature to put off challenging conversations as long as possible. But we all know that in most cases the longer we procrastinate the more severe the situation. Leadership coaching on this topic is essential in many situations. Demonstrate and teach your people how to plan the conversation carefully, stick to the facts and avoid emotion to get through the toughest conversations.
Personnel selection: This is another scary topic for many people and one where our hand as a seasoned leader can help others make solid decisions. Challenge your people to ask the most insightful questions, which will likely lead to better decisions and hopefully avoid a hiring error that has to be addressed later on.
Leaders who work diligently to build team skills will soon witness confidence growth in individuals — often way beyond expectations. When a team is skilled and self-assured, everything runs better. And at that point leaders can get out of the weeds and spend more time looking to the future.
Many of the most rewarding moments in my career were when my coaching efforts blossomed. In the long run your fondest leadership memories will be about the people you helped develop.
published in the Nashville Business Journal