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When coaching, it is a temptation for you to talk more because we have plenty to say. However, in order to gain information and identifying appropriate goal areas, you must listen more. Remember, you have two ears and one mouth. Listen twice as much as you talk. Your objective here is to “catch” as much information as possible to help you determine what specific areas you can leverage and achieve results. Many times, allowing your employee to achieve even the smallest of goals begins a positive reinforcement of coaching. At some point before your actual coaching session, you want to engage in a brief discussion with your employee to determine their personal goals.
Here are some questions you should ask while during your pre-coaching meeting.
• What goals are you working on right now?
• Where are you in relation to those goals?
• What do you think is keeping you from reaching this goal?
• How will you know you reached that goal?
Asking these open-ended questions starts a conversation about your employee, which is what you want to achieve. Allowing your employee to speak more enables you to gather more information. Asking questions about their goals reveals their desires and this is something you can tie in to your coaching goal. Maybe an employee is furthering their education by going to college at night. Understanding this, you may be able to motivate your employee to achieve better performance, leading them to make more incentive they can use to fund their educational needs.
Furthermore, understanding where they are in relation to their goals reveals needs that may need support from you. Helping your employee with their personal goals builds a great working relationship. Finally, determining what roadblocks are preventing them from reaching their goals will provide insight into their personal circumstances. Granted, you may not solve all of your employee’s problems, but demonstrating empathy goes a long way and helps to form goals for you that take into consideration your employee’s personal situation. Remember, your employee does not care how much you know until you show how much you care. Listen more and talk less.
One final note, at first you may find asking questions challenging. This is normal. Give it time and do not give up. You may even have to let your employee know that you are interested more in their personal goals as a way to help them reach goals at work.
They say that leaders are born, not made. While it is true that some people are born leaders, some leaders are born in the midst of adversity. Often, simple people who have never had a leadership role will stand up and take the lead when a situation they care about requires it. A simple example is parenting. When a child arrives, many parents discover leadership abilities they never knew existed in order to guide and protect their offspring. There are countless war stories of simple GI’s and sailors who rose to a challenge on their own in the heat of battle.
Clearly, leadership potential exists within each of us. That potential can be triggered by outside events, or it can be learned by exploring ourselves from within. This training takes the latter approach. Once you learn the techniques of true leadership, you will be able to build the confidence it takes to take the lead. The more experience you have acting as a genuine leader, the easier it will be for you. It is never easy to take the lead, as you will need to make decisions and face challenges, but it can become natural and rewarding.
Leadership is not telling others what to do. Leadership is inspiring others to do what needs to be done. Many people around the world who are in leadership positions are not leaders. Dictators call themselves leaders but they are not. There have been many presidents of the United States, but few were real leaders. Genuine leaders take a stand and motivate others to join them in a noble purpose. One such leader was Abraham Lincoln, who ended slavery in the United States. Another was John F. Kennedy, who inspired a nation to go to the moon within a decade, and it did. General Patton had a completely different but no less effective leadership style. What is it that makes a leader, and what separates the good from the great?
Influence is subtle, yet incredibly powerful. You can order someone to do a task, but you cannot order them to do their best. It simply does not work and usually has the opposite effect. You can influence people to do their best by providing a strong, motivating example in addition to positive reinforcement. Leadership addresses tasks, while influence addresses attitudes and awareness. Influence is the soul of leadership.