“Coaching is 90% listening, and 10% listening.” – Julio Olalla
Yes, that quote is right…coaching is intentionally listening. Listening is a skill within itself, as I wrote recently here: http://transformationalstrategist.com/leadership-skills-listening/
Leadership and communication are both based on relationship. Creating and maintaining relationships is the key.
So, what’s up with listening and coaching? Many people think that coaching is about telling people what to do or what decisions to make…that’s wrong! Coaching is working with people to assist them in making their best decisions and in building their best skills. Coaching is the leader’s way to improve team performance by raising the functioning of leaders on teams.
Transformational Leadership is a culture of high performers, similar to a musical ensemble, in which each musician takes responsibility for his or her own performance. The conductor does not function for the players. The conductor, like the business leader, influences the group to function with passion and effectiveness.
Here are my personal guidelines for coaching:
- Clarity: At the beginning of a coaching session, I ask what the other person or persons expect to accomplish in the session. I also define the length of the session. This is key: define what you want to accomplish and what the time boundaries are. Be clear on your objectives if you, the leader, have initiated the session. Be clear that the session is about their performance and not about you, if that’s the case. Some things are collaborative; however, if you lead an organization, it’s your vision that must be maintained. Be clear on levels of decision making, as well. Define what others can decide, with and without your input and/or approval.
- Affirmation: Be sure to affirm what’s going well. It’s good to start here. When thinking about change, be sure to keep what’s good. It’s also good for a person’s attitude to focus on what’s good first before moving to corrections or changes. Affirmation also comes with listening. Listen while the other person is speaking and after they have finished. Leave about 3 seconds of silence after the other person is finished talking. This is also affirmation.
- Change: Define what you want to have changed, as well as what the other(s) think should be changed. This category might include things to stop doing. Focus on the impact of the change in the big picture. It’s the overall strategy that matters. The pathway to success can vary and many corrections will ensure that the objectives are completed.
- Consent: Be sure to identify your variables and non-variables. Your principles are clear, as are your long-term objectives and short-term goals. As the leader, it’s your prerogative to define those outcomes. Getting to them might be negotiable. Let the person coached know what their choices are and what choices are not acceptable.
- Action: End up by reviewing actions agreed upon and ask for them in writing. If the other person writes up what’s decided, you know that they have understood.
There are three basic steps to coaching:
- Set the Stage: Identify what’s expected in the session.
- Focus on Process: Getting to the objectives and creating an understanding of priority, importance, and sequence.
- Review Actions and Decisions: Asking for the person coached to identify the value received and their commitment to change lets you know that they have understood what you want, or that they have identified how to move forward with their plans.
Coaching has many definitions and many styles. This one works for me and I refine my processes continually.
It’s important, however, to remember to listen. Listen with intent. Listen with your eyes, as well as your ears. Practice silence following each time the other person speaks. Silence is affirmation. Silence is clarity. Silence is a time to think.
The Transformational Leadership Strategist TM
(c) 2015 Hugh Ballou. All rights reserved.