Good morning, good afternoon or good evening, wherever you are. I hope you are keeping well.
Last month I asked the question, how does coaching fit into your role as a leader? I hope I answered that for you. Today, the question is more about why coaching fits into your role as a leader or manager.
In days gone by, we were able to get away with achieving satisfactory results from the satisfactory performance of our people – and this was easy, because, to achieve satisfactory performance, we only needed to put in place a variety of controls to ensure (should that read “force”?) satisfactory results to pop out the other side. In many cases, this required us to be reactive rather than proactive and resulted in our team members creating ways to beat the system. The result was that any success was temporary and seldom above the level of satisfactory performance.
Nowadays, we don’t get away with satisfactory performance, do we? Our responsibility for achieving results has risen enormously and the results required seem to grow exponentially each year – or at least that’s how it feels. The only way to achieve this superior performance is through team members who seek to achieve these results not because they have to, but because they are personally committed to doing so. Accordingly, we need to accept that sustained superior performance is not under the leader or manager’s control, but under the control of the individual performers. After all, our team members have control over what task they will do now, how much energy they will put into that task, how long they will take on it, and how well they will do it. In short, they have total control of their discretionary energy. What happens if they for some reason or another operate less than optimally? What happens if our old ways of managing them are unable to ensure that they maximise their performance? Isn’t it our job to channel this discretionary energy in a way that brings about the levels of commitment that will enable them to achieve superior performance and, therefore, superior results? If it’s not our job, then whose is it? And what, then, is our job?
Of course, our challenge is made even more difficult by the fact that most of our organisations have downsized, right sized, restructured, re-engineered and managed our efficiencies to the point where we feel like we are running on a treadmill, questioning whether we are in fact getting anywhere. The result: we have half the number of people doing three times more work with fewer resources! And this is supposed to be sustainable!
On top of this, less than 60% of us have had any training in managing people! And we wonder why we are so stressed?
But what do we know about our people? One thing we intuitively know is that they are more likely to use their discretionary energy and time in pursuit of organisational goals when, as Kinlaw puts it –
- they sense that there is enough in it for them;
- they are clear about where the goalposts are and why they are important;
- they are clear on what they have to do to be able to have some influence over the attainment of goals;
- they feel they are sufficiently competent to achieve these goals; and
- they are appreciated for working so hard to achieve these
This is where coaching comes in. For me, coaching is not just a fashionable substitute for control – it is not just another, or the latest, fad. It’s been around for a while now and is increasingly regarded as effective – and I am not just talking about coaching from us professional outsiders. I’m talking about leaders and line managers. The truth is that leaders, at every level and in every organisation, do not have the time or capacity to control any more. We have to empower and delegate to create a culture of responsibility and initiative. If we don’t get this right, we will increasingly feel stressed and ineffectual as more and more responsibility is heaped on our already overburdened shoulders. Accordingly, coaching, leading and managing are, for me, synonymous. Coaching, managing and leading become effective when we use relationships and dialogue to generate possibilities and growth. It is not simply a matter of learning some new techniques. Coaching is not a technique. It is not an add-on. It is a way of being – the way we see the world, relationships and the organisation.
I’d really be interested in hearing your thoughts – so please feel free to press the “Comment” button below and let me know. Even better, let me know if you would like to explore this further.
Until next month