Coaching Skills & Leaders as Coaches
Leaders should be able to have effective coaching conversations with the people they lead, but how and when should managers and other leadership team members be making best use of these coaching skills?
The idea of leaders becoming effective coaches is nothing new. In fact, it’s become incredibly fashionable for business leaders to take the position of a coach in order to educate their staff and help them manage their difficulties within the workplace.
In fact, a survey conducted by the International Coach Federation (ICF) showed that executives and entrepreneurs who use leadership coaches can increase their net income by an average of 46%. In addition, 70% accepted business coaching as “very valuable” and there were numerous benefits in improving self-confidence, lowering feelings of anxiety, and improvement in personal satisfaction. If leaders can experience these benefits when being coached, there’s nothing stopping it from also benefiting your wider staff.
But what can you consider as a coaching skill and how do you apply it to your workplace? In this post, we’ll be taking a look at what it means to use coaching skills as a leader to help educate and motivate your team to create a more effective business.
Coaching skills for leaders
The focus of coaching skills should be to help individuals perform better in the workplace. This can be achieved in a number of different ways, but the two most popular approaches are to focus on nullifying weaknesses or concentrate on amplifying strengths.
Reducing the effect of weaknesses that staff are facing
All staff have weaknesses that can often manifest in the workplace. Some of the most common work-related stress factors include deadlines, interpersonal relationships, staff management, and problem-solving. By understanding the challenges that your staff is facing, you can attempt to mitigate some of their issues which leads to more productive staff. This is especially important when you consider that some of the most common ways for staff to reduce their stress include consuming more caffeine, smoking, and even consuming alcoholic beverages.
Coaching is a much safer and more effective alternative to leaving your staff to their own devices. Statistics provided by the Association for Talent Development show that 80% of the workforce who have experienced coaching say it positively impacts their work performance, productivity, communication skills, and even their well-being.
There are a number of unique skills that leaders can use in order to help staff negate their weaknesses. This can include:
- Showing empathy towards staff and connecting with others in a way that is free from judgment. When you can see a staff member’s issues and understand them from their perspective, it gives you a better understanding of how to solve their problems and identify what causes their difficulties.
- Sincerity plays a huge role in good leadership and coaching skills. It shows that you have a desire to help a member of staff that is struggling with their role or a specific task, and it also shows that you are passionate about your approach.
- Listening to and observing your staff is essential when it comes to understanding the day-to-day troubles that they may face. It can be difficult to understand the challenges that your staff face unless you lend them an ear and listen to their struggles.
- Separating each employee as their own individual personality instead of a collective is also an important distinction to make. Everyone has their own problems even if they work within the same team and experience the same challenges. By seeing each person as an individual, you can understand their struggles and gradually coach each member of your team to boost their work performance and well-being.
Playing to an employee’s strengths
Leaders must also look at ways to focus on boosting an employee’s strengths. In addition to covering for weaknesses, strengths must also be identified and used to their maximum potential in order to help employees find their role and purpose within the workforce.
Research shows that teams that focus on the strengths of their employees have a 12.5% increase in productivity compared to teams that don’t. Another benefit to this approach is that employees are more likely to enjoy their roles if they are able to play to their strengths and utilize their skills in a team environment that makes them feel like they’re fulfilling a purpose that is made for them.
When it comes to coaching skills, leaders should focus on the following in order to play to the strengths of their team:
- Communication is vital because it helps leaders understand the strengths of their team. If you fail to speak with your staff on a regular basis, then it’s difficult to understand what their preferences are and the optimal roles for them to fill within the workforce.
- Analytical skills are also important because it helps you identify strengths based on performance metrics. Not every employee is aware of their talents or strengths, especially when compared in relation to other members of the team. By looking at how well your individual members are performing, you can identify talented employees and coach them to take advantage of their strengths.
- Coaching can also help employees build confidence in their skills. Even once a talent has been identified, unlocking its full potential and utilizing it correctly within your team can be a challenge. By offering your guidance, you’ll help staff build confidence in their abilities which will turn them into exceptional employees.
Real world implementation
Making use of coaching skills in the workplace can sometimes be tricky to roll into business as usual. Regardless if you’re focusing on negating weaknesses or amplifying strengths, the key is to always focus on effective communication and feedback loops to help you give and take constructive responses.
Adopting a flexible approach to employee coaching can also greatly improve the effectiveness of your team, building morale and establishing a clear sense of leadership. No matter how good your coaching skills are, they are useless if they cannot be utilized in the correct context.