Are You a Leader Who Coaches Their Team Members?
When you think of the leaders you most look up to, are some coaches? If so, you’re not alone. Consider these famous quotes on coaching and how easily they compare to business leadership and management principles.
“Selecting the right person for the right job is the largest part of coaching.” – Phil Crosby.
“To be as good as it can be, a team has to buy into what you as the coach are doing. They have to feel you’re a part of them, and they’re a part of you.” – Bobby Knight.
A recent Gallup research study asked more than one million US workers what makes a truly exceptional manager. One thing came through in their responses – great managers lead very differently than common ones, and they do it by being coaches, not bosses.
Think about some of the great coaches you have had.
What are some of the qualities these coaches have in common? I can think of a few that rise to the top for me — communication, vision, enthusiasm, trust in their teams. Now think about a manager or team leader who has had a significant positive impact on your work life. Were they also a great communicator, leading with vision and purpose, seemed excited to be there each day, and entrusted their team members to get the job done?
Gallup describes these ‘coach-bosses’ as having four essential skills:
- A focus on engagement – Rather than just telling people what to do, a coach focuses on building high-performance teams that are stronger because of individual talents, collaboration, and diversity of thought, and personal experiences from the group.
- Understanding individual strengths – Great leaders take the time to understand what drives their team members and identify their unique skills and weaknesses. Most importantly, they use that information to position their employees and teams for success. Whether that’s playing point guard versus center or serving on a customer service department’s front lines versus supporting back-end operations, great coaches position their team members for success.
- Set clear expectations – Winning coaches expect a lot from their teams and ensure they know a win. They set performance goals and measure progress towards reaching them. They provide precise and continuous feedback (not one annual performance review) to help employees improve and succeed, rather than just correcting or punishing low performers.
- Communicate – Both successful coaches and bosses have this in common – excellent communication skills. Influential leaders communicate effectively and often. They check in with their team members a lot, and they both collect and respond to feedback and share their own.
It’s important to note that with remote workforces on the rise, managers who excel at these four coaching skills don’t necessarily always do so from the ‘court.’ There are innovative collaboration and mobile communication tools out there to help teams and managers communicate effectively – even if their workforce is spread out around the world. By setting clear expectations and communicating often, remote managers can build high-performing teams too.
Do you want to improve your coaching and team management skills?
Let’s start with these two sports-related quotes from two famous coaches:
“The only place that success comes before work is in the dictionary.” – Vince Lombardi
“Coaches have to watch for what they don’t want to see and listen to what they don’t want to hear.”
– John Madden
Like any skill, learning how to be a better coach and an effective team leader takes work, practice, and communication. It also takes help from professional leadership coaches and trainers. Investing your time and resources in a management training program that teaches high-performance leadership techniques is a great place to start.
As you implement new leadership techniques, make sure you collect feedback from your team members on how it affects them, what changes they see and how they think you could improve – to ensure you’re using the new skills effectively. Creating a culture where team members aren’t afraid to give negative feedback is essential to your growth and success as a leader.
The Importance of Employee Development
One important facet of good coaching understands the importance of employee development – both in yourself and other leaders – and in all team members. An investment in employee development will both increase employee engagement and improve team members’ skills. So, while you’re working on enhancing your management skills, consider how you can provide training and employee development opportunities that also push your teams to improve as well.
As you consider how to implement some of these essential coaching leadership skills in your daily work, I’ll leave you with two more of my favorite quotes from famous coaches:
“It’s what you learn after you know it all, that counts.” – John Wooden
“You don’t demand respect, and you earn it.” – Steve Seidler