Kim Sawyer: Lead by Coaching – The Missing Piece (Part Three in the series)

What coaching does.
The motive power of coaching is action learning. Bite size learning, situationally relevant, put into practice, reviewed for deeper learning and then reapplied to another situation in revised and improved version – a feedback loop. It runs something like this: when something comes up on someone’s job they are challenged by, then as a coach you bring or help them arrive at an idea or method or behavior they need to learn that will help address that. You talk about that together so that they get an understanding of it. They commit to go and try it in that situation. Then you will get together afterwards and do an after-action-review: “How did it go? What worked? What didn’t work? What did you learn? What do you need to do differently? Let’s revise our approach, customize it for your personality and then let’s look for another situation to try again.” Action-learning loops are going on all the time in coaching, often times in a variety of different arenas at the same time.

Coaching also involves evoking – bringing out of people what’s already is in there. Attracting, all of this is about attracting (remember Leadership by Attraction from Part 1?). How do you do it? You do it by modeling. As a coach/manager you have to be walking your talk in a way that wins their admiration and desire to aspire in your direction (remember “being the change”, Axiom 1 of Leadership by Attraction?).

The coaching process is also about seeing the highest and best in people, maybe before they see it in themselves. Then challenging them to dig it out, take it for a few test runs and begin to realize it’s true. Treating them as if they already were that way (remember Axiom 2 of Leadership by Attraction?).

What a coach provides:
I look at coaching as having three primary pillars. These are the areas of value that a coach is responsible to bring to the relationship. These are the power tools of the technology of success.

Knowledge and Resources:
What do your people need to know in order to succeed? Can they come to you as their source? That means you have to spend some time gaining and expanding knowledge that is of contextual value and broad enough to be applicable to different people in different situations.

Where can your people turn to grow and learn as needed? How will they access training, specialists and mentors – resources. That means you’ve got to have some; because rest assured, you can’t provide it all. You have to be building some relationships. This is another reason the network-building process is so important to your success as a leader. You need to be building solid and strategic connections inside and outside of your company with people that have a broad variety of interests and expertise so I can pull from that for your people when they need something specific (Social Capital).

Hence the unavoidable realization that order to be an effective leader-coach you will have to be spending some time outside of the coaching relationship developing some of these things your coachee/reports are going to need. Start today allocating time for gaining knowledge and resources, so that when you sit down with your people you have something to bring to the table. That is one of the things a leader is getting paid to be doing – really.

Awareness and Focus:
Where does your coachee need to focus? Are they paying attention to the right stuff? Are they going in the right direction? Are they getting the awareness of themselves and what’s around them that they need to succeed?

This is about the art of asking questions, about listening fully and openly to their answers. It involves offering thoughtful, challenging and unconditionally constructive feedback. A coach must be willing to tell the truth – to be willing to point out, in a way that leaves them open to hearing, the things your coachee can’t see, the blind spots. As an aside, it may involve gathering feedback from folks around the report, who may not have as a clear perception of themselves as they think they do.

Accountability and Celebration:
Part of coaching is push, part of it is pull. The push lies in encouraging somebody to reach their limit and stretch just a little bit beyond that – AND providing them the various forms of support they need to get through their fear and be successful. Then the pull on the other side is the accountability.
It’s all about the actions: “What are you going to do differently based on this conversation that you wouldn’t otherwise do, if we weren’t having it?” We call these actions “stretch-goals”. Goals because they need to be things that are clearly doable, yet stretches in that they are challenging – just beyond the coachee’s edges. We want to grow their capacity, to push their limits farther out, to help them to get comfortable being uncomfortable – even welcome it. The goal is to create continuous series of successes because each success makes it easier to embark on the next one.

Celebration is a ritual or ceremony about acknowledging the value of something – being aware of and actually experiencing the value of something – feeling it recharge the emotional batteries. There is a tremendous amount of motivation available in celebration; it is another free resource to power up performance and drive success.

We have developed a tool at theWealthSource called “The Technology of Celebration”. It is a practical application of this concept, a methodology. It can be downloaded as a gift from us at our website. The Technology of Celebration

If you can facilitate celebration with the person you are coaching or with your team on a regular basis, you get to unleash all of that power and confidence – peak performance – individually and as a group with your people. The sustainable impact on overall productivity is huge. The financial cost is next to nothing.

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