From Managing to Leading Part 2: Leaders are great coaches

In my previous article, I discussed the importance of coaching as part of any leadership role. Whether it is formalized or not, each leader has a responsibility to coach his or her team (direct and indirect), to achieving their full potential.

Often, there is confusion with respect to the role of a coach. A great coach – and leader – helps people realise things for themselves. That’s the best way for someone to really assimilate a teaching. Thus people can adapt their way of doing things based on their own realization. A great (micro-)manager tells people what they should be seeing, and how they should be doing things.

In my experience, asking open questions helps people realise things that outsiders, can easily see. Invariably, the person will tell me about a situation that they’ve been in that hasn’t gone the way they would have liked it to. Or, they will describe the approach they are planning to take with a particular situation. Here are my favourite open questions, the ones I repeatedly ask and from which great revelations have been made by my clients:

  1. When they are faced with a perceived failure of some kind:
  • What great thing has come out of this situation?
  • What are you assuming about this situation?
  • How could you make a “win” out of this situation?
  • What three successes did you have leading up to this situation?

2. When they have a plan of action in mind, or are preparing for a conversation they want to have with someone:

  • Have you ever tried this approach before? How has it worked out for you?
  • What response do you think you will get to your proposed plan?
  • How will the messages be received? How do you want them to be received? What do you want out of this interaction / plan?
  • How else could you tackle this?

Ultimately, coaching someone well will allow them to see things from others’ perspectives. This will open them up to developing approaches taking into account others’ perspectives as well as their ultimate goal. In the end, they will be that much more likely to succeed in their endeavors, and will help them develop their own leadership skills.

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