• Dr. Sharon Livingston


It’s a rhetorical question.


Coaching skills are critical for all people in your company who manage others at all levels.

The reason I’m writing this is because one of my marketing research clients asked me if learning how to coach might help people in her company.

Here’s some food for thought

If you’ve ever had a really good sports coach or fitness coach, you’re not likely to forget it. Good coaches make learning a positive experience, inspiring each individual to work hard and to their full potential.

Can you say the same for the managers you’ve had throughout your career? Just because someone is in a management role, doesn’t mean they have strong coaching skills or know how to encourage people to do their best in the areas that are well suited for them and the company.

Coaching in the workplace focuses on improving the skills of each employee, through:

-Identifying the employees’ strengths, skill, interests and needs

-Setting credible goals that serve the employee and the company,

-Creating a road map to get there

-Having accountability for the steps along the way

-Dealing with the obstacles that show up

-Rethinking the plan and redirecting when necessary

More companies are seeing the benefits of coaching, for both employees and the business.

While many employers hire external coaches to work with staff, it’s also a good idea to build coaching into your company’s leadership methodology.

This way, managers across the organization can be given the opportunity to develop their coaching skills and get the best out of their teams, on a long-term basis.

How to incorporate Coaching into your Company

Many companies have instituted Mentoring programs into their systems.

The idea is for successful managers to teach others how to succeed based on what they learned.

Conceptually this is a great idea but there are problems.

Just because someone performs well doesn’t naturally translate into being able to teach others.

Becoming a mentor is an honor, but is not compensated.

It’s an additional responsibility without pay, and therefore may not be experienced as seriously as their other work assignments which impact their own performance and reviews.

Mentors tell their stories, how they did it, what the mentee should do, but are far less likely to guide others to their desired goals. Mentors pass down history, traditions, rules and rituals that are associated with success.

Mentors talk and teach. They tend to give advice based on what they figured out for themselves in their many years of experiences.

This is interesting but generally not what most people need to grow.

In contrast, Coaches Listen and Guide. A coach will assist, challenge and encourage rather than lead, give orders or instruct. While good coaches do have experience and knowledge in particular areas their role is to understand, motivate and guide rather than train.

As a coach, even though your client came to you for your expertise and reputation; even though they think they want you to solve their challenge and tell them what to do; it’s really not about you and your talents or strengths.

It’s about who they are and their particular journeys. Clients need help in talking about and clarifying their destination - Why they chose it, what the benefits are, what tools they have to get there.

Great coaches listen intently through the filter or their knowledge and experience. They reflect what they understand from interviewing their clients so the clients can better see, embrace and recognize their strengths.

Clients are empowered to see themselves as problem solvers for their own wants and needs. This builds confidence and trust in self.

So, for example, as a coach it’s better to avoid asking your client a question and then immediately launching into an explanation and your solution to their problem. It’s about what the client believes and needs; what they want to achieve.

BUT, managers conceive their role as getting things done. It’s more about the deliverables but not how to get there – unless they do it themselves. And of course, this creates more problems.

Here are just a few of the behaviors exhibited by less than wonderful managers.

Micromanages - will see only one way to accomplish a task and will not value the input of others.

Low Emotional Intelligence – appears to lack empathy or compassion for others and not in touch with their own feelings – “Feeling don’t belong at work!”

Controlling – “my way or the highway “and not open to suggestions from staff member

Doesn’t provide clear direction - lead to confusion amongst team members and work not getting done

Takes credit for others work – doesn’t acknowledge others’ contributions

Any sound familiar? Now it’s not to say that these same people aren’t excellent in their work skills. But they were never taught how to encourage and guide others so it’s a win-win for the whole organization.

The problem isn’t the manager. The problem is the expectation that once you achieve the title of manager you automatically have acquired the skills and knowledge to help others grow. But most times that’s not the case. Managers need to learn how to manage. Managing well requires a broader perspective about how to get things done utilizing the efforts of others. Good managers have learned how to incorporate creative and effective tools to motivate and build empowered work teams

Unless you focus on the “client’s” goal and not what you think it should be they’ll probably remain stuck, which is most likely the reason they came to you for coaching in the first place.

You’re the catalyst to their success, not the driver. As you help them identify their dreams, goals, strengths, skills and potential gaps, their custom road map will start to take shape in a realizable, step by step plan.

Then you can guide them and hold them accountable along the way.

To wrap up:

How to Manage with a Coaching Approach

So what do managers do differently when they are leading from a coach mindset?

Think about the difference between managers who only tell employees what to do vs. those managers who take the time to work with employees on professional development. It’s that coaching perspective that is the key difference between the two.

Successful managers know how to offer regular support and encouragement to employees, helping them to optimize their potential so they can get where they want to go in their career.

Having a manager take on a coaching role will also help employees to stay motivated and focused on their goals. When there’s someone else you’re accountable to, who has placed a lot of time and energy into your career, you’ll want to consistently deliver your best work possible and because of the trust and engagement you’ll feel loyal and invested in the company.

A good manager can also help to identify potential skill gaps and encourage you to learn new skills, achieving new personal goals in the process.

And isn’t that what great managers do?

How well do the managers and leaders in your organization provide these opportunities for growth?

Would you like to learn more about coaching skills?

Become a Professional Coach

Get Certified in our award-winning Fast Track Program March 14 – 17 NYC. March 28 – 31 Dallas

Learn more: https://www.drsharonlivingston.com/coaching-certifications

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