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Insights from an executive business coach
Science backs the importance of strategic leadership development
Studies based in procedural justice theory have shown that when individuals consider that the process through which leaders arrive at decisions is fair and well communicated, according to Rawls, 1971, staff will be more committed to a final course of action. But for now this erosion in the role of the manager has been significant. A research project that focused on how top executives view training and development programs, executives overwhelmingly said the most urgent issue they face is igniting their managers to coach employees. Furthermore, finding and deploying the most effective solutionsit appears to be the biggest challenge executives are facing.
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Coaching your team to higher performance and responsibility
Great leaders implicitly have internalized the transferability of emotions. This process is also known as emotional contagion (Hatfield, Cacioppo, & Rapson, 1993). Great coaching managers are careful with their reactions in times of crisis or emergencies. They wait for better opportunities to generate empowerment, inspiration and excitement when a new momentum is needed within the team and become proactive in avoiding fires they have become used to put out themselves. Ongoing crisis management cannot be an effective leadership style. A better approach to work is to delegate authority using cooperative leadership style and put trust into the team and let the team members learn to handle complicated situations themselves.
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How to improve leadership abilities
Coaching is better than repair. Providing positive feedback and honest suggestions for improvement early and often yields higher results, better outcomes, and stronger bonds and better relationships than any retroactive action or progressive rule ever will. Managers generally get this, so getting them to buy into this is not a rocket science. However making them implement how to document coaching conversations can be challenging. Managers should continuously look out for new opportunities to coach team members. They shoould benefit from the opportunities to inspire and motivate employees or educate them further and enable them with new skill sets. On the other hand managers should make it a habit to connect and ask for feedback from team members to assess situations and create solutions. Managers should invoke conversations with team members by asking guiding, open-ended questions, that are not closed yes and no questions. As a result such questions will encourage team members to provide honest, thoughtful answers about their view on things. Such conversations and feedback loops will enable the manager to establish beneficial relationships with the the team member.
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When using coaching as a leadership development tool
Coaching managers should perceive coaching as something broader than just the efforts of exterior coaches who are hired to help executives build their personal and professional skills. That work is important and sometimes vital, but it’s temporary and executed by outsiders. The kind of coaching managers should implement is the one that establishes a real learning organization with ongoing coaching that is executed by people inside the organization. It is an activity that all managers should participate in with all their subordinates on an ongoing basis, in such a manner that helps define the organization’s culture and its mission. An effective coaching manager as a leader asks questions instead of providing answers, supports team members instead of judging them, facilitates their growth and leadership instead of dictating what has to be done, asks for ideas from all team members on how to solve the situation instead of just relying on own attempts to solve it individually. A coaching manager with cooperative leadership style can approach any obstacle with a calm, objective and clear focus. A deeper understanding of issues and solution-focused fact finding creates the blueprints for resolutions.
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The advantage of coaching management style
Non-directive coaching implies listening and asking questions that lead to insights on their own versus telling and instructing. The real benefit comes to light when this cooperative leadership style ends up asking challenging questions and listening as the employee or team member starts thinking for him- or herself and solving his or her own issues.
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Today's role of coaching in organizational development
With fast, continuous and disruptive change being the biggest constant in business, a great leader just cannot build exclusively on what worked in the past because with new parameters due to change there is just no guarantee that this will still work these days. Managers simply cannot and should not expect to have all the right answers and must adapt to new conditions and collaborate with specialised teams. To cope with this new reality, enterprises are ditching traditional command-and-control practices and replace those with a model in which managers give support and guidance rather than instructions, and subordinates adapt to constantly changing environments in ways that unleash fresh empowerment, identification with the mission, energy, motivation, innovation, dedication and commitment. Studies have shown a nice side effect being that coaching managers found themselves learning themselves throughout the process of coaching in collaboration with their staff. A dyadic relationship with subordinates is key for the coaching manager to perform effectively his leadership.
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Has coaching become the sixth management function?
Everybody involved in management should know about the five management functions. French mining engineer Henri Fayol defined the role of a manager as consisting of five functions of management: planning, organizing, commanding, coordinating and controlling. Another theorist, Luther Gulick, chunked commanding and controlling into one function being directing and added staffing, reporting, and budgeting, also known as POSDCORB, which is still used nowadays in management. So, how does coaching and leading fit into all of this? Leadership is one of the most vital management functions completely overlooked by these theorists. For the realisation of a mission an effective leader has to provide clarity, guidance and purpose. Without it any mission is set for failure. This can be accomplished best by switching from commanding and directing to a non directive leadership style.
How much is coaching for leaders?
Leadership effectiveness within the team and with clients
Excellent coaching skills can come in handy in times of conflict. Suppose there is a conflict between two team members. The effective coaching skills of active, equal listening and emotional intelligence are deployed to reduce stress, anger, confrontation and ineffective, destructive communication. Allowing space for each side in times of conflict and to also co-create solutions helps to unify the team. Professional coaching involves partnering with team members and clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their real potential. Methods of objective assessment, active listening, asking the right questions in terms of reflective questioning encourage self-discovery of all parties.
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The benefits of coaching sales leaders
When sales coaching triggers the sharing of valuable sales-knowledge this leads to having the entire sales team deploy successful methodology instead of just one top sales person using it. This can be easily accomplished by using tools like Salesforce-Chatter, Slack or any other chat-rooms or forums. When knowledge can be transferred easily within an organization this exchange engages, motivates and energizes the rest of the entire sales team. On top of that this content can become a resource to be repurposed in sales trainings.
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How to improve leadership qualities
The coaching manager outperforms the directing manager because leaders can schedule a one-on-one conversation with team members to hone into their concerns and struggles. This setting enables the coaching manager work on solving those struggles and concerns without interfering with team members' progress. When a coaching manager is open to making mistakes, it also gives the subordinates to push themselves to the next level and learn the lessons from their own mistakes. It is crucial as a coaching manager to provide constructive feedback so that subordinates know how to refine what they should keep doing. It is clever to begin a critique by describing what a team member did well. When a coaching manager starts a conversation on a positive note, it opens the senses and guides the transition into constructive criticism. Each team member already has enough ups and downs in their lives without a director that adds on. Great leaders are consistent in their communication, nature and character, messaging, availability and mission. Just like advertising, an ongoing continuous, cumulative approach is highly effective at establishing and leading change and improvement.
What are the effects of leadership coaching?
How do coaching and mentoring contribute to leadership development
As a coach, it is helpful to clarify the role beyond just being a manager. For a manager to be effective in coaching his team it is necessary to specialize in professional and executive presence, as well as to improve strategic communication and presentation skills. According to Mouratidis, Vansteenkiste, Lens, Sideridis studies on the self-determination theory has shown that feedback loops motivate intentions to continue pursuing targets and fosters dedication and commitment.
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In most companies executive coaching goals are not achieved
According to the self-awareness of many managers about their coaching skills, most of them assume that they are good at it. But actually the contrary is reality. A recent study in which 3,761 executives assessed their own coaching skills has shown the discrepancy with how those skills were perceived by their direct subordinates. The results did not align at all. 24 percent of the executives significantly overestimated their coaching skills, rating themselves as above average while their team members ranked them in the bottom third of the group. That is a significant divergence. The authors of the study concluded that if managers think they do well at coaching but actually they are not, this poll suggests that those managers might be worse at coaching as they imagined.
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How to ensure a new manager transforms into a brilliant leader
Each time a brilliant employee gets promoted to the next level within an organization without the coaching support and leadership training he / she needs, the organization makes a huge mistake by leaving the new manager's performance and success up to chance. They have a 50% chance that not only will the new manager fail, but having missed out on leadership coaching this will cost their organization a little fortune to press play and repeat until a new manager randomly really outperforms with his / her team. Effective coaching skills do not only serve the new manager but also each and every level of employment. Increasing empathy and compassion in every function reduces friction and stress and replaces both with growth potential within the team. Tough decisions in tough situations with normally tough conversations become easier to maneuver when coaching skills are in place and well implemented and performed.
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When timing is right for leaders to trigger self coaching within their teams
Leaders should use their active listening skills to really get to the bottom of an employee's answers, and ask follow-up questions when necessary as well as learn more about their unique strengths. The key for true leaders is to encourage team members to share their honest feedback or input with the leader, and welcome them to ask the leading change questions as well. As a matter of fact, workplace coaching usually happens unscheduled outside of formal coaching sessions. At times it just happens in brief exchanges, for example when a managing leader in charge might respond to a request for guidance by posing a single question, such as “What do you already have in mind?” or “What could be the solution?”. A manager just cannot have all the right answers that might occur. When managers increasingly end up asking good questions in such kind of interactions, the team will notice that it is on the right track.