By Tony Gambill, Forbes
One of the primary skills leaders need to develop is to “stop telling” and focus on “leading through coaching”. This strategic mindset shift for leaders comes from an understanding and realization that success in their role is not defined by being the team’s best problem-solver. Success as a leader is all about empowering others, developing employees, and building strong relationships for ongoing team success.
Making the shift from “leading through telling” to “leading through coaching” helps create an environment where employees feel valued, empowered, and motivated—all key ingredients for improved well-being, and performance. Leaders who are effective coaches regularly ask their employees two types of coaching questions.
1) Questions for understanding the employee’s context and perspectives regarding challenges and opportunities.
- How do you feel about the current situation?
- What is working / What is not working?
- What actions have you taken?
- What would success look like?
2) Questions to generate solutions for those same challenges and opportunities.
- What do you think you should do next?
- What solutions do you see?
- What other approaches might work?
- How can I support you moving forward?
Benefits Of Having A Leader Who Coaches Employees
Strong Manager and Employee Relationship
Leaders who understand that leading others is a privilege understand that leading, first and foremost, is about service. This service orientation is the foundation of an effective manager and employee relationship. When managers lead through coaching it creates an environment where employees feel valued, competent, and in control.
There is only one way for a leader to understand how to best support their employee’s goals, motivations, strengths, and weaknesses; it is by investing time with the employee asking coaching questions, and listening to their responses. This investment is the only way for a leader to demonstrate that they truly care about the employee’s professional success. Coaching can occur in quarterly meetings or regular ongoing interactions. It doesn’t matter the approach, but what matters is that employees can answer definitively “Yes” when asked this important question: “Does my manager care about my well-being and personal success?”
Improved Employee Well-Being and Motivation
Developing an environment and relationships that foster employee well-being and motivation doesn’t happen by accident. Research on human motivation – see Self-Determination Theory – tells us that people have three innate psychological needs that affect well-being and motivation. These universal needs are Autonomy, Relatedness, and Competence. A leader that is effective at regularly providing coaching provides their employees the following advantages for improved well-being and motivation.
- Having input in deciding how work gets done
- Freely expressing ideas and opinions
- Providing opportunities to control their work situation
- Feeling heard and valued by the leader
- Connecting their work to broader goals
- Feeling understood by the leader
- Providing a safe space for professional development
- Demonstrating confidence in their ability to resolve challenges
- Enabling a sense of accomplishment from their job
Employee well-being is important at all times but its’ importance has been magnified during the last year. How are you showing up as a leader? Would your employees say you primarily lead through telling or lead through coaching? Coaching is the primary tool leaders have for building strong employee relationships and improving employee well-being during these challenging times.