01 Mar The Source of Power?
Teaching and coaching can be synonymous when the objective is to guide people to the source of their own power. Both teaching and coaching are fundamental skills required to become an effective leader.
Consider the people that have truly touched your life. Chances are they mentored you in some way – i.e., they illuminated and brought out a passion that you developed into a strength. The teacher/mentor/coach truly demonstrated leadership by communicating to you in a clear, respectful, stimulating and consistent manner.
Early in my career, I had a manager that was often misunderstood by his peers in the organization. He was an intellectual and he did not fit in with the typical, country-club executives (something I admired). What I learned from him was how to be a keen observer, and he always astounded me by seeing things other didn’t. He not only heard what was spoken, but he heard what was said. He could interpret body language in the context of group dynamics, and he was able to watch a leader’s nuances affect on others. Even more remarkably, he had total recall of interpersonal interactions.
During performance reviews, his observations demonstrated a total commitment to my development, and that led to trust, respect and loyalty. His observations helped me discover where I needed to adjust and he was extremely patient in helping me come up with solutions that I could commit to – that is, changes I needed to make in my behavior. He simply asked me questions that led me to take a step back and analyze the situation from a different perspective. His approach taught me a valuable lesson: Questions are a powerful leadership tool; and formulate questions for yourself about your own performance (e.g., What happened? Why? What could I have done differently? Why didn’t this occur at the time? How can I insure a better outcome the next time?).
Teaching and coaching contain the following components:
· Setting and Assessing performance standards
· Giving and receiving feedback (rewards and punishment)
· Managing disruptive and negative individuals
In “Coaching for Improved Work Performance” by Ferdinand F. Fournies, the author outlined a simple 5-step process for most coaching opportunities, and these can be applied to coaching your own performance:
1. Get agreement that a problem exists
· This is the hardest and most time-consuming part, because you are asking someone that may not have high self-awareness to focus on how his or her behavior/performance affects others and results. This is also the most important step, because if you can’t get agreement here, you will not end up with commitment
2. Mutually discuss alternative solutions
· You will get the best results if the person being coached has a lot of say-so in the solution – the “how” they will improve. This is also where you will see commitment to change and the “how” they will improve
3. Mutually agree on action to be taken to solve the problem
· Be clear that you both have the same expectations for what will occur (i.e., what will change)
4. Follow-up to measure results
· You can’t expect what you don’t inspect. To measure is to manage.
5. Recognize any achievement when it occurs
· Most importantly, catch people doing things right!
So the source of power is… The Art of the Question!
The things we know best are the things we haven’t been taught.
––Marquis De Vauvenargues