In the olden days . . . once you were identified as being great at what you did you were made a manager. You taught others how to do it right – just like you did. It was a command and control world.
As it turns out, this was never a good idea because you did not let others flourish by using their natural talents to create their own “best way” – but it is an even more bankrupt idea today.
The world is changing so fast that yesterday’s answers won’t work tomorrow. Everyone has to be nimble and ready to invent a new way to address challenges. In this new world, the role of the leader has changed from expert to coach.
How can you be an effective coach for your team? A recent article* in Harvard Business Review provides some guidance with the GROW Model. In the model, a staff person has a work issue that is challenging them, and you offer to provide some coaching.
Goal. Be sure that the person you are coaching is clear on what their goal is for the project – right now – that is perplexing them. Focus on the short term. Ask “What do you want when you walk out the door that you did not have when you walked in?”
Reality. Ask questions about the situation rooted in “what, when, where, and who” so you both get clear on the reality of what is going on. Stick to the facts. Get past generalizations and attributions. Ask “What are the most important facts we need to know to address this challenge?”
Options. When people are perplexed about a challenge, they have often placed limitations on the options they see available. They are literally not thinking outside the box; they have boxed themselves in. Your job is to help them consider broader perspectives. Ask them to dream and get a little crazy – “If you had a magic wand what would you do?” This can help begin to identify more realistic options they had not considered.
Will. As you are wrapping up the conversation, make sure you are both clear on what is going to be done: “What will you do now?” Help focus this if necessary. Once that is clear then ask a second “will” question: “On a scale from 1 – 10, what are the chances that you will actually do this?” This helps to make sure that the solution they have developed is something they will actually follow through on. If they answer below an “eight” then maybe you need a new plan.
A coaching approach to leadership will allow your team to GROW and soar!
*Ibarra, H. & Scoular. “The Leader as Coach,” Harvard Business Review, November – December 2019, pp. 111 – 119.