Good morning, good afternoon or good evening, wherever you are.
How does coaching fit into your role as a leader? That’s the question I would like to answer for you today and I hope you find it useful. No matter where you are on your career ladder, as soon as you manage others, there is also a part of the role where you would be leading, and this role increases as you climb the ladder. Put simply, your leadership role is concerned with the future, what you and your team are aiming to achieve over time, and your management role is concerned with ensuring your team members perform their roles and achieve their goals (the What).
Coaching, in this context, is a series of conversations that take place to help a team member achieve these goals (the How). In the old days (hopefully), the how was achieved with a ‘command and control’ or autocratic approach by the leader/manager. The trouble with this approach, where the leader/manager tells the team member how they are going to achieve their goals, is that the leader/manager then owns the problem of how to get there and often the team member, almost understandably, doesn’t need to take responsibility for how it is achieved – they merely implement what they have been told to do. Moreover, the team member learns little as it is the leader/manager who does all the thinking.
If the leader/manager moves the “thinking bubble” over the team member’s head, they start to get into the habit of being part of the solution, not the problem. It makes a huge difference when the person with the challenge owns it and is made to feel capable and resourceful in finding his or her own solutions.
But where does the leader’s role end the individual’s start? When people join an organisation, they by implication sign up to behave according to the rules of the organisation, and the organisation is entitled to expect that the individual does so – moreover, it is the leader/manager’s role to ensure that this happens. So where is the line that moves us from leader/manager to coach?
Myles Downey’s diagram below provides us with a pretty exact picture of where that line is – down the middle of the three intersecting role circles:
WHAT the individual employee does sits on the left-hand side, in the authority of the organisation. (As we have seen, telling the employee the WHAT is less effective than having the parties agree what the employee needs to achieve.) In terms of the diagram, WHAT is executed and HOW is the responsibility of the individual. As coach, the leader/ manager’s role is to ensure the individual performs well and that he or she learns and improves as a consequence of this coaching process.
To summarise then, in the leader circle, the leader designs the future he or she wants, preferably with input from and, agreement with, the individuals in their team and then holds the big picture clearly and constantly in front of team members. The manager circle is responsible for, once again collaboratively, designing the goals to achieve that future. Finally, the coaching circle is where the leader enables or facilitates how the individual (or team) will achieve those goals.
I hope that these circles will help you to be more conscious of which circle you are or need to be in at any given time and that this enables you to have greater clarity as you lead your team. Notice how this impacts your team members and how they take greater responsibility for finding appropriate ways to achieve their goals.
I’d really be interested in hearing how this works for you so please feel free to comment below and let me know.
Until next month