Today, a coaching style of management is the competency that separates highly effective managers from average ones1.
A coaching style of management has been shown to unleash the team’s energy and steer them towards peak performance and innovation.
But what does it mean to have a coaching style of management? There are a few ways managers can do this:
Ask and listen
Asking questions and actively listening are at the heart of effective coaching conversations, so use these skills to complement your management style. Insightful and open-ended questions that start with “why”, “how” or “tell me more about(…)” can trigger critical thinking and problem solving skills. Actively listening to what the other person has to say with an open mind helps create deeper connections that invite frank discussions and creative thinking that can help uncover root causes of problems.
Let others put forward their own solution
As managers, it is often tempting to share expertise and provide solutions to a problem, and this can be very helpful when it’s sought from you. Having said this, people are more committed to their actions and feel accountable for the impact when they personally resonate with the action plan. The solution should come from them first.
Recognise and utilise strengths
People who use their strengths are 6 times more engaged, perform better and are less likely to leave2. One way managers can identify strengths is to ask their team members questions such as,“What was the best day at work you’ve had in the last few months?”. Managers can also give employees opportunities to “job craft” – redesign aspects of their work and projects to play to their strengths and interests.
Lead with empathy
The ability to understand and connect with people, and see from their perspective – empathy – is a superpower in coaching conversations and relationships. Empathy is one of the most important drivers of overall performance amongst managers3. One-to-one coaching can help enhance this skill. Through ongoing dialogue, feedback and accountability, coaching helps increase self-awareness and helps managers (and others) champion change in their teams and companies.
Adopting a coaching style of management helps increase collaboration and engagement between team members. Managers can help their teams flourish by supporting them in their learning and helping them develop competencies that aid them both at work as well as outside.
1Garvin, D.A., 2019. How Google sold its engineers on management. Harvard Business Review.
2Sorenson, S., 2020. How employees’ strengths make your company stronger. Gallup.
3Gentry, W., Weber, T. and Sadri, G., 2011. Empathy in the Workplace A Tool for Effective Leadership. [online] Cclinnovation.org.