When it comes to coaching leadership, the focus is on developing people and finding their maximum potential. This is not about managing things, but about people. Rather than giving straightforward instructions on how to do things, coaches are rather asking and trying to help solve problems.
One excellent book on coaching leadership is Michael Bungay Stanierin – The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever.
Leadership is often thought to be much about giving advice and directing things in the right direction. However, coaching is not really about counseling, but about asking and listening.
“A little more asking. A little less telling people what to do.”
When you tell your subordinates what they should do and what to do, they rarely learn much about the situation and the decision-making process themselves. Through coaching leadership, the goal is to get people to learn and support that learning in their daily lives.
Coaching leadership is easily confused with once-a-week or monthly coaching sessions, but instead it is a way of doing business. A daily activity that should be featured in your business every day.
Coaching leadership is largely about asking the right questions. This does not mean that you lead by leading with rhetorical questions that you often see when it comes to coaching leadership. Rhetorical question are often at the level:
“Have you wondered if you would do x, y or z?”
In practice, in such situations, you only give instructions and put a question mark after them. Michael Bungay Stanier summed up the difference between questions and answers in his book like this:
“Answers are closed rooms; and questions are open doors that invite us in.”
Asking the right questions will lead you to the role you would like them to play. Instead of having to help every time you come to a tight place.
Coaching at workplaces is in a way more challenging than at sports as supervisor often has the opportunity to jump in to help and even save the situation. In sports on the otherhand, a coach can’t jump on the field, but he or she really needs to get the athlete to realize and grow.
Of course, the big difference between sports and business is that in sports, the role of coach is almost universally perceived to fit into this mold. Not everyone in the world of work is yet to flag in the name of coaching leadership.
First, the coaching leader should ask questions one by one. And give the subordinate time to think and answer, not breaking all the uncertainty of silence with a new question.
Here are seven questions from The Coaching Habit book that may be helpful for your leadership:
Ask, don’t give instructions. This sums up coaching leadership, if anything.
However, it is good to remember that the instructions also have their place. If someone asks a specific question, like, “Where in the drive folder was thing x?” … It might not make much sense to go further than just giving clear instructions.