Every leader wants their team to me motivated, engaged, be innovative and efficient. The leader-coach posture will allow you to carry this out. That said, to reach it, you must adopt specific behaviors to fully dedicate yourself in accompanying your team in the development and reach of their full potential: you need to be a conductor and put aside your expert posture. Here is a list of 5 essential habits to adopt, daily, with your team, to become a good leader-coach.
Actively listening to others
To be a good leader-coach, the first habit you need to apply is practicing the art of listening to others. What does that mean? You must listen to the other person rather than yourself. We listen in a state of mind that is detached from our intentions, we listen with our heart, our intuition, without judgement. We hear their values, their beliefs, their theories, energy, intentions, capabilities, and emotions above what is actually said, their resources, potential, and development. It is in that state of mind that we can listen to the global message, like an external channel of the others conscience. To achieve it, our intention must be clear, and we need to practice. In our ‘3 listening models’, this is what we call listening on the third level. You can find in our free membership here.
Stop giving all the answers
When a team member of yours approaches you with a question, how many times could the answer have directly been given by themselves or a fellow team member? Often, managers that we coach tell us that it is at least 50%. Our automatic response is to answer the question our team member has because we have experience, seniority, and it is part of our managerial role. That said, we are not helping the other person because we are certainly not holding our team accountable for their tasks. This means that when a team member asks you a question, sometimes you have to restrain yourself from answering them even if you know the answer and even if it will save you time. This will enable the individual to be more autonomous. You have to let your team members find what they wish to accomplish and their options to do so, with your help, IF needed, in order for them to decide the solution they see fit.
Help generate possibilities
Generating options is the second step in our coaching model, explained in detail in our Empower Your Team guide. It consists of helping others to generate options and solutions that correlate with their goal. Generally, when our employee or colleague has found the desire result – his or her ‘destination’ – they will spontaneously propose one or two options to reach it. Silence is key in this step! Two options often result in a dilemma, whereas three is the magic number that allows you to make a choice! Let’s put our dreamers cap on to imagine the possibilities… and let’s be crazy! During this step, you have to encourage your speaker and bring them, with our questions, to dig deep and explore until they have at least three options. The chances are that our employee or our colleague is motivated to apply their own solution when it comes from them, instead of being instructed.
Here are a few examples of questions to generate options:
- What are your options?
- Which are practical?
- How could you exactly?
- What resources can you rely on?
- What are the obstacles to reaching the solution?
Ask questions differently
Depending on how you ask them, all questions asked allows for dialogue. Let us deepen the way we ask and explain questions or to answer them ourselves. Let us ask ourselves closed-ended questions that limit the possibilities and options. For example: “Is this clear?” “Do you know how to proceed now?” or “Does this resolve the issue”. The best questions are simple, short, open and aim for clarity. They provoque or challenge, they are oriented towards solutions and the future. They allow people to get out of their problems, change their way of thinking by exploring new possibilities by being conscious of new perspectives and lead to unsuspecting answers. We often shape our questions on the why, to understand others. Why did you do that? Why did you choose this option? This type of question can be intimidating. We can structure our questions differently with the same intention of wanting to understand. For example: “How and why is this important for you?”.
Not answering questions of your team members can equally imply that you have to accept the decisions made by your employees. It will not always be the decisions that you would have made, nor the best solutions, but the experience will be worth it. If every time a team member makes a decisions and you contradict or oppose it, they will stop taking any and will continue to ask questions so you can decide. So, you must be ready to accept that mistakes will be made but that growth will be on the forefront and development will be possible.
So, being a leader-coach requires you to adopt a different posture and leave your expert posture that knows all the answers, in order for you to dedicate yourself to accompanying and helping your team develop their full potential and significantly contribute to the reach of the set goals.