Coaching is one of the most effective management and leadership styles. It allows the leader to work with the team members to move towards higher levels of performance and excellence. It also builds an understanding of self through the process, allowing the individual being coached to set their own standards and goals, which lead to more engagement, overall performance improvements, and a greater sense of accomplishment and accountability for both the individual and the team.
Coaching for excellence allows the leader to ask questions that create opportunities to think outside the box, evaluate opportunities with clarity, and create a workplace culture where personal and professional growth is not just an aspiration; it is a part of every employee’s life.
This is a mindset and skillset shift for most managers. Integrating coaching skills when working with employees requires a focus on listening, asking not telling, and going deeper than simply getting a basic answer to the question.
To start coaching for excellence in any organization, there are specific strategies that the coach/leader uses. These include:
- Developing the skill of asking questions – coaching is about asking people questions that help them to understand themselves and what they want to improve. Learning to ask questions that get to the underlying values, beliefs, and motivation helps to position employees for continuous improvement at every level.
- Support and challenge – coaching is a balance of supporting efforts and growth but also challenging the individual to continue to grow. Recognizing efforts and helping the employee to create opportunities for growth without criticizing or imposing your ideas is an essential strategy to develop.
- Encourage continuous growth – one of the benefits of coaching is the ability to set long and short-term goals with built-in measurability and milestones developed by the employee. This is highly motivating and provides the opportunity for ongoing performance and personal growth that is not limited to pre-set KPIs or professional goals.
- Empathy and perspective – highly successful coaches develop a sense of empathy and the ability to see the perspective of their employees. This is essential to create alignment between the coaching conversations and what the employee values and believes. It is also essential for the coach to support the employee to feel empowered and aligned with their goals in striving for excellence.
- Modeling and learning – coaches should model coaching behaviors consistently and not flip from a coach to a micromanager and back again. Coaches should be coachable and constantly strive to learn more about how they can continue to grow their skill set as a coach for excellence.
Managers using coaching for excellence as a model should complete a leadership coaching program. They should also consider working with their own coach to develop goals and model and support the importance of coaching as a tool for personal and professional growth.