You cannot lead unless you can coach.
– Christian Simpson
The truth is most leaders and managers do not coach their teams. Many do not know what business coaching is because the concept of coaching has been ruined, particularly from the world of sports. Sports coaches take their players at the beginning of the season and start from scratch with training, assuming that their players do not know anything. It is called the empty vessel approach to coaching. John Wooden, the famous UCLA basketball coach, would start every season by introducing his entire team to the basketball. His training was that basic. While effective, his coaching is representative of most sports coaches – it is a one way model to teach specific skills and steps. In business, your new employees do not come to you as empty vessels. They possess a range of values, abilities, and skills. Once your employees are trained on systems, procedures, and policies, true business coaching is what will add value to them.
Another reason coaching is not understood or used in business settings very often is that people confuse coaching with teaching, mentoring or counseling. In coaching, the coach draws answers from the employee. In teaching, the trainer simply provides information. In coaching, the coach shares his experience only when necessary. In mentoring, you share your experiences, opinions, and solutions with the employee. In coaching, the coach is proactive and works on future growth and results. In counseling, the therapist usually works on past issues to resolve present conflicts.
An effective coaching program will create an alliance between the manager/coach and the employee where both are active equal participants in reaching positive results for the employee. A successful coaching program will include these basics:
- Effective questioning
- Active listening
- Learning followed by action
- Self-discovery by the employee
- Greater awareness of greater possibilities for the employee
- Better clarity for the employee
- Improved responsibility, decision-making, and choices by the employee
At the heart of coaching is the critical and effective use of questioning and asking questions. Every great designer, inventor, change-agent, or innovator used questioning to solve problems, create new products or services, or move forward in their career and their life. Coaches ask questions because it draws out the best in the employee. Coaching and questioning go hand in hand. Implement coaching in your company as a part of the training and development of your people. Coaching can be another effective way to create bonds between the manager and the employee, demonstrate a desire to help your employee succeed, and reduce turnover by keeping your employees learning and growing.