Managers: Are You Really Coaching?
According to a survey of managers on the qualities they admire most in leaders-they overwhelming responded that being inspiring and forward looking were the qualities they most admired. Sadly, they did not see these very same qualities in themselves-yet they are two of the top 4 managerial qualities cited. Competence and honesty were the other two qualities. This poses a very important question- 1. if managers don’t see themselves as inspiring and forward looking- how do they create the space/environment for the very people they are managing to model these very same characteristics? Another question is, 2. how does a manager who fails to see themselves as inspiring and forward looking spend their days?
The first question- if you hold certain beliefs about people, work, titles/positions and roles within an organization- these can hinder or assist you in being the best darn manager you were intended to be. Being the best manager must always include characteristics designed to bring out the best in others and consequently keep them moving forward. We know the importance of the bottom line to any organization- but how does one get the ideal bottom line? The answer is simple and staring us in the face- at least those who manager others- the answer is develop your people to reflect the very characteristics you most admire in others.This is not as difficult as it may first appear.
The saying ” you can’t give what you don’t have’ rings true in the situation of managers. You see, in order to bring out inspiration ( notice you are bringing inspiration out- not trying to get people inspired- huge difference!) that is already within people- yes, even those dubbed to be lazy, cantankerous, only do enough to slip under the radar etc- you the manager must have and demonstrate a character that is defined by being inspiring. The same is true if you want to keep people moving forward, yet all you can see are problems- you and they will remain stuck in mediocrity and blaming others for your misery.
To inspire others you must be inspiring. To keep people forward looking you must be able to look ahead and see the possibilities, the potential in each of your direct reports and the opportunities to tap into to truly unleash their true potentials. This requires you as a manager to spend your days a little differently from how you traditionally spent your work days. This takes me to the second question- how do managers who don’t see themselves as inspiring and forward looking spend their days? Right off the hop I will tell you they are busy putting out fires. Some of the fires are real and do require extinguishing- others are fires in the future.
Many current fires managers spend a large chunk of their day putting out could be first prevented if only they were inspiring and forward looking. Other fires if they do occur most often than not could be put out by any one of their more than capable employees. But alas, these employees were trained not to be inspiring and forward looking and instead were trained to run to the manager for most if not all decisions.
To get around the conundrum managers face with themselves and their employees- managers first need to be coached on how to use coaching principles on themselves first- then on their employees. If you are a manager who holds the belief it is just easier and faster to tell them what to do rather than coach an employee to create and execute solutions for a situation- ask yourself- what am I making easier? What am I allowing to happen faster by telling rather than coaching? Managers who tell rather than coach the inspiration and forward looking qualities out of their employees will find the coaching approach most challenging and down right hard. However, once consistently applied the coaching approach brings out so much good in both manager and employee you will wonder why you never discovered this approach sooner.
The coaching approach allows managers to achieve the bottom line easier and faster. This is simply because when a manager is able to coach an employee to become more aware of themselves- this opens up their ability to develop the qualities most admired in leaders:
1. Honesty. Employees who are coached by their managers to truly unleash their potentials can’t help but be honest. They will use company time for the most part for the company. They will bring their ‘A game’ to work everyday, because now what they do at work involves them. It is now personal and they want work to work.
2. Competence. Managers who take the time to coach their employees will see an increase in their level of competence and proficiency. This is simply because coaching builds a strong sense of confidence in employees. No longer are they told what to do and consequently made to feel stupid and dumb. When coached employees develop a sense and belief that they matter, that what they have to say or do at work is an important part of the whole and without their contribution work would not work. One can’t help but be confident given this sense of belonging and importance. The side effect- a greater sense of pride in their work, themselves and their colleagues. This kind of attitude makes work work.
3. Inspiring. The spin off from a coaching approach is what the increased self-awareness brings. When managers are able to draw out the potential from their employees and show them what they are capable of simply by trusting them more and helping them to see solutions rather than focusing on problems- this spills over as inspiration. This inspiration will spread like a wild fire within the organization.
4. Forward looking. With honesty, competence and inspiring under their belts- both managers and employees are naturally wired to look ahead. Once cannot hold the first three characteristics and be anything but forward looking. A greater sense of honesty, competence and internal motivation/inspiration naturally bring hope and trust. Employees who work in a coaching environment will naturally see the glass as half-full. They will look for solutions not problems. They become the purveyors of great news not gossip and other limiting behaviors.
All the above benefits of coaching are supported by decades of research conducted by various organizations. These organizations are ahead of the curve and have adopted coaching in their organizations from the time coaching was in its infancy. With the demographic of workplaces changing rapidly the only way managers can truly manage effectively in the truest sense of the word is if they use a coaching approach in interacting with their employees.