Updated: Mar 11, 2019
“I absolutely believe that people, unless coached, never reach their maximum capabilities.” – Bob Nardelli, CEO, Home Depot
Based on our experience working with clients on various people management and employee engagement issues, I believe that companies that invest in establishing, developing, and sustaining a coaching culture will considerably influence and eventually improve the performance of their organization.
High performing individuals who are incredibly effective employees can coach other colleagues who have yet to tap into their passions and gifts and become as disciplined as they are. And in the process of coaching other employees, they can also grapple with the development of their own competence and leadership.
In a Stanford study (Lazear, Edward, Kathryn Shaw, and Christopher Stanton, "The Value of Bosses". Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, Stanford University, October 2, 2012) and Google’s Project Oxygen (Byrant, Adam, "Google's Quest to Build a Better Boss". New York Times, March 12, 2011), ‘coaching’ is one of the key skills associated with effective managers. Internal “leader-coaches” or “manager- coaches” are key as internal champions because they support the organization’s ability to adopt and scale the effort by means of internal ownership.
It will be important that organizations develop a culture of coaching for the long term, because for any type of change initiative to succeed, internal champions are required. When an organization embarks on an initiative that requires people to embrace change -- whether it’s a new system, branding or leadership -- it often includes the support of outside consultants and trainers. But unless the organization takes ownership for this effort internally, it will eventually run its course and be replaced with the “next thing” somewhere down the road. While utilizing consultants and trainers is an effective way to bring in outside expertise, jumpstart an initiative and gain momentum, it can often be viewed by employees as something that is being “done to them” rather than as something owned by the leadership and that is being built into the organization’s culture.
When you create internal champions and coaches, you not only help with adoption and buy-in from other employees, but you also create a model for internal scalability. Relying solely on outside consultants and trainers is not effective since they won’t be part of your organization long-term. As you build internal leader-coaches, you develop the capability to not only sustain the effort, but also to scale across the organization as they begin to teach and coach others. Like the old adage states, “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; show him how to catch fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.”
As a leadership style, coaching is in between a directing leadership style and delegating. Coaching requires high directive and high supportive behavior from the leader or manager. As a teaching approach, it is also both barrel-filling and barrel-drawing. For instance, if you are telling your staff that you need to have a summer outing, you could say something like, “We need to plan for our next summer outing for the company. What I think you ought to do is to go out there and survey people on where do they want to go. Then later get quotations from those resorts for comparison. What do you think? Do have any question? Do you have any suggestion?” I filled his barrel with the questions he could ask, but I also drew out of his barrel for suggestions he could make on where to go.
Coaching, therefore, is the hardest leadership approach because it requires much time. Most managers would rather not spend extra time on top of the jobs that they already think they don’t have enough time do to. So, you think you’re loaded? Think you don’t have enough time?
Be careful in dismissing becoming a coach to someone simply because you don’t have the time: it may become a vicious cycle. It starts with thinking, “I don’t have enough time so I must delegate some of the work to others.” Then you get confronted by the reality that “But wait, no one is competent enough, so I can’t delegate it to them.” This is where coaching comes in. You say, “I have to coach them, so they’ll be competent,” but then you think, “but I don’t have enough time.” You’re back where you started.
Bottom line is, you need to invest time -- to save time. Investing time in coaching will be the best investment you’ll ever make for the other person, for your company and for yourself.
You see, as you develop internal coaches and champions, you also develop the most effective and powerful source for training and development: on-the-job training. While classroom and other traditional learning methods play a valuable role in the development process, the most effective learning environment is real-time and on-the-job. When managers throughout the organization are trained to be effective coaches, they can coach others in how to effectively communicate with peers, how to identify an attitude problem that is affecting the team, how breaking a commitment can delay the project, or how inattention to detail can cause quality issues. Leader-coaches can come alongside and mentor employees on the spot, a method proven to have long-lasting effects.
The ability for people to become effective in their personal and professional lives should not be considered a short-lived program, but rather a way of life for your organization. It is my hope that you will make a decision today to utilize your influence and leadership gifts to make a positive difference within your organization. If you nod your head in agreement to that, the next step is to choose to invest in others by encouraging and coaching those around you.
Boris Joaquin is a top-ranked public speaker and masterful trainer for leadership programs and other soft skills. He is a seasoned management consultant, being involved in various industries and business sizes, from multinationals to locally owned enterprises. Presently, he’s the President & Chief Equipping Officer of Breakthrough Leadership® Management Consultancy, Inc.
Boris is a registered Investor in People Specialist helping assess and advise other organizations to achieve their business priorities through the development of their people. You may be able to contact Boris at (02) 813-2703/32 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.