Do you need a coaching habit?
Leaders lead and teams follow – right? Perhaps not. There's a reason more and more businesses are looking to embed coaching into their culture.
Steering a business is never easy. Competing priorities, demanding clients, targets to hit – it might seem like you just don’t have the time or headspace to develop people and focus on their growth. But in an age where the landscape changes fast and teams need to be agile and responsive, moving away from a prescriptive style of leadership could benefit you and your team.
The benefits that coaching brings your team? They seem pretty clear – unlocking potential, understanding individual’s challenges, identifying opportunities for growth.
But how could coaching help you as a leader?
In his book The Coaching Habit, Michael Bungay Stanier talks about ‘three vicious circles that plague the workplace’. And developing a coaching habit can help you to break out of these circles:
Circle one: Overdependence
Think about the last time you took annual leave – were you worried about (or did it result in..) the business struggling to function without you? Overdependence is a common trap leaders fall into – especially if they are founders of the business. Your team have been trained to be reliant on you to the extent where they are disempowered, and you are hamstrung. It can lead to frustration all round – with you having an unachievable to-do list and your team encountering a bottleneck that slows processes down.
It’s a self-perpetuating problem, as Stanier puts it ‘The more you help your people, the more they seem to need your help’. But through coaching you can help your team to ‘increase their autonomy and sense of mastery’. You can grow a more self-sufficient team, take a step back and stop being the bottleneck.
Circle two: Overwhelm
Does the work just keep on coming? Is your average day a constant battle to keep your ahead above the tide of meetings, emails, questions and sign-offs? If so, you’re probably suffering from overwhelm and that’s likely to be stopping you from getting stuck into what really matters.
A coaching habit can help you to get this focus back. As Stanier puts it, ‘so you and your team can do the work that has real impact and so you can direct your time and energy and resources to solving the challenges that make a difference’.
Circle three: Disconnect
According to Stanier ‘the more work we do that has no real purpose, the less engaged we are. The less engaged we are, the less likely we are to find and create Great Work.’
Think about the last week – has your time been spent doing work that has meaning and impact? If not you’re likely to be feeling unfulfilled and with a lengthy to do list.
Through a coaching habit you can connect with work that has impact and meaning – and help your team to do the same. You’ll create a culture of courage, where people can step beyond the comfortable and the safe, learn from new experiences, and push their potential.
Listen and empower
There are lots of different coaching models, and it might take some exploration to find the one that works for you and your team. The Coaching Habit gives you seven questions and the tools to make them an everyday habit that enables you to work less and have more impact. It’s a great place to start if you’re looking to take more of a coaching approach to leadership.
Try to think of coaching as less about formal sessions and more about how you approach everyday interactions with your team. Consider the questions you’re asking, be more active in your listening and support them to work through challenges.
The more you start to employ this kind of communication, the more your team will start to feel empowered to take responsibility and the more you’ll avoid the three ‘viscous circles’ and get the time and space to purposefully lead your business.