If you’re a leader who’s wondering how to be a better coach at work, good for you.
Everyone needs a coach they can trust –someone who has their best interest at heart.
We need you in our world of work.
But being a good leader-coach isn’t as simple as it seems.
If you’d like to be a better coach at work, then start with understanding –and practicing–these three unexpected strategies.
How to Be a Better Coach at Work: 3 Unexpected Strategies
Strategy 1: Accept that people take time
If you care about helping people grow and succeed, but you can’t find enough time to spend with them, then you’ve got a huge problem.
Because human beings are messy. We need time and space to think, process, learn, decide, act and interact.
That’s not a weakness. It’s actually the proven formula for creating better ideas, building relationships, and solving complex problems.
But we’re often expecting people to act like computers: receive a command, execute a command.
If you assume you know everything there is to do all there is to do, and you just want to give commands, then by all means, go get yourself a team of robots. Good luck with that.
But since you’re reading an article about how to be a better coach at work, my guess is that you want the results only humans can bring.
So, when you find yourself talking about investing in your people but you can’t prioritize your calendar to focus on them, you only have two choices:
- Take a hard look at what you’re saying yes to make more time to be present with the humans on your team. (You might be ready for a coach of your own to help you navigate priorities and tough conversations with others to help you get from where you are now to where you want to be.)
- You can hire a coach to work with your team or key individuals. A well-trained professional external coach can supplement what you can do as a leader, and keep your team moving forward even when you can’t be the one to get them there.
Both of these actions buy you back the time you –and your people– need. Accepting that people take time is the only way to help people grow and thrive.
Strategy 2: Shut up and listen
Yes, we know you’re smart.
But you don’t have to prove it to be a great coach.
In fact, the best coaches in our workplaces are the ones who know that their value is not in their knowledge.
It’s in how well they listen.
And listening isn’t just about hearing what’s being said. It’s about noticing what’s not being said, too.
Truth time: this is one of the hardest coaching competencies for any smart leader to develop. So you’re not alone.
In reality, by a certain point in our career, most of us have gotten where we’ve gotten because of what we’ve done and said.
Not by how well we’ve listened.
When you really want to learn how to be a better coach, practicing the skill of active, attentive, other-focused listening is a critical step.
And the easiest way to practice is to shut up.
Resist the urge to speak, to interrupt, to explain.
Bite your lip if you have to. Think to yourself, “shut up shut up shut up.”
Sure, it’s uncomfortable. But that’s where the growth is.
Strategy 3: Remind people of their truth
Sometimes, the best value I can bring to a coaching client is to mirror back to them what they’ve known all along.
‘Cause we forget our own truth.
- We forget who we want to be, since it’s often easier to be who others think we are.
- We forget the way we want to act, since we’ve built habits over time to behave in other ways –and often, those ways got rewarded or encouraged.
- We forget some of the painful bad times–and the decisions or actions that got us there in the first place.
You, as a leader-coach, are uniquely equipped to help.
- When you’re making time for people, you learn more about who they are really and what they want–not only in their work, but in their life.
- When you shut up and listen–really listen–you connect deeper and see their story.
- And as you continue the pattern of investing this time in those humans you call your team, you can remind them of who they are, what they’ve done, and what they want–so they stay on track when decisions get confusing or life gets distracting.
They’ll thank you for holding them to their truth.
And you’ll be the better coach at work that everyone wants.
Hey—want more help?
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