Coaching is an essential leadership skill that works best when the leader is in the right frame of mind. Your best mindset is to approach coaching interactions by being open-minded, non-judgmental and always assuming positive intent. Here is a framework you can try.
The 4-Step Coaching Model
Good leaders reply on systems and processes. When engaging your people in a developmental conversation, it is useful to follow a series of steps that will help guide the discussion in productive ways.
- Goal: They (not you) choose which mountain to climb. Letting them choose their goal builds intrinsic motivation. Use your own words and ask what they would like to become “even better at.” This approach avoids the implication that they are doing things wrong. Gently guide the conversation if need be, but avoid being judgmental. Lastly, ask where they are now and use this to bridge to the second step.
- Plan: This is a two-step. Brainstorm, and then organize it into a plan. Start by asking what they might have done already to work toward their goal. Useful questions here include “How’s that been working for you?” and “What else can you think of to help you reach your goal?” Be curious and keep asking open-ended questions aimed at what they can do to achieve their goal. Promote ownership, accountability, and responsibility. This is often the hardest step for managers because they default to solving problems, not uncovering motivations and incentives. When the plan starts to take shape, keep it organized: who does what, when.
- Pause: Consider the obstacles. Have you ever heard someone say “Oh, we didn’t anticipate that!” Don’t let that happen. Intentionally stop after the planning phase to think deeply and laterally about how this will play out. Who else needs to be involved? What other competing agendas might trump ours? Look ahead at the calendar to see if there are other initiatives that might conflict. Consider people’s reactions. You’ll be glad you did.
- Execute: Think of each step as a small project that must be managed. Are S.M.A.R.T. goals assigned?
Coaching is all about facilitating the growth of your people. That means that they will be doing most, if not all of the work. As they develop new habits, gaining small wins and making developmental progress, encourage them to keep you posted and in the loop so that you know where they are at well before your monthly coaching session. Keeping track of the progress is vital, and writing it down allows reflection, learning and shortens developmental cycles. After all, what gets measured gets done.
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