In many ways, all of us are leaders. We influence others – family, friends, neighbours and school or work associates. It may be formally or informally, but it happens. We get to choose whether that influence is positive or negative, helpful or unhelpful. 

Leaders engage in a number of activities when interacting with other people, including communication, planning, problem-solving, directing, training, assisting, mentoring or coaching. People, including ourselves, rarely achieve their potential without the help and input of other people. 

Today let's talk about coaching

In his excellent book Coaching for Performance, John Whitmore defines coaching as: “unlocking a person’s potential to maximise their own performance. It is helping them to learn rather than teaching them.” Good coaches think in terms of a person’s future potential, not just their past or current performance.

Through a business fable entitled The Coaching Conversation, Brian Souza identifies four types of managers:

  1. The Nice-Guy Manager,
  2. The Do-it-all-Manager
  3. The Micro-Manager.
  4. The Coach.

He suggests the following three steps:

  1. Change your approach – stop acting like a manager and start acting like a coach. Change your mindset to focus on other people's success, not just your own.
  2. Create an environment that is conducive to coaching. A relationship built on trust and good rapport is a vital part of this. 
  3. Transform the conversation into a weekly constructive coaching conversation. It's take more than an annual review to bring out the best in people!

He goes on to say:

  • As a coach the more you give, the more you’ll get. The more you care, the more your team will contribute.
  • Great coaches consistently get the most out of their people because they consistently put the most into their people.
  • As a coach, the only way you can achieve your potential is to first help your team members achieve theirs.
  • Coaching is not merely something that you, as a manager, must do. A coach is someone that you, as a leader, must become.
  • When all is said and done and we’ve completed this journey we call life, what will matter most is not what we have achieved, but rather who we have become.

Here are a few reflection questions around the theme of coaching:

  1. Who has had the most positive influence on your life to date? What was it about them and their approach toward you that helped you the most?
  2. Have you ever thought of yourself as a 'coach'?
  3. Who around you could benefit from more of your interest in their life?
  4. What are some of the potential joys of coaching?
  5. What are some of the potential challenges?

In many ways, coaching is an art form. It is something that we can develop and learn to do better. 

Tomorrow (in part 2) we will look more closely at the actual coaching process.