Internal, Coach-Like Managers as the Drivers of Change?
Do you remember work in the year 2000? Email was still a blessing, and we hadn’t yet become attached to smartphones. We were connected, but not hyperconnected. We were busy, but not roll-out-of-bed-and-read-your-emails-while-brushing-your-teeth kind of busy.
Today’s managers are stretched as thin as can be. They are overwhelmed and overcommitted, and they are constantly fighting against the clock.
Organizations are now, more than ever, under pressure to be more agile, to make faster decisions and seize opportunities before they pass them by.
What’s the best way to approach this challenge?
How to Get with It — and Fast
These days, companies need to be nimble on their feet. To do so, leaders and their teams must be self-reliant and able to have in impact in the great work that makes a difference to their company, their place in the market and their future.
Often to help with this human capital vision, external coaches are brought in to coach executives. Although this has its benefits, executive coaching is costly, impacts only a handful of people and cannot be scaled. Seeing as they are external, these coaches are outside the company’s culture and therefore not fully aligned.
Still, coaching is the answer here — just not that kind of coaching.
Training Managers to Be More Coach-Like
Training managers and leaders to be more coach-like is a much more scalable, sustainable and robust approach to driving change and improving performance.
Why? For starters, they know their organization well — the employees, the culture, the good and the bad. Managers are with their employees on a daily basis. And, ultimately, what it takes to become more coach-like is asking a few more questions and offering a little less advice.
In 2000, Daniel Goleman, the psychologist and journalist who made the concept of emotional intelligence popular, wrote an article titled “Leadership That Gets Results” for Harvard Business Review. In it, Goleman outlines six key leadership styles. Coaching was one of them, and it was shown to have a “markedly positive” impact on performance, climate (culture) and the bottom line.
Great start there — but it turned out that it was the least-used leadership approach.
Coaching Is All about Conversations
“Many leaders told us they don’t have the time in this high-pressure economy for the slow and tedious work of teaching people and helping them grow,” Goleman wrote.
Things have changed since 2000. And yet here we are, having the same conversation about lack of time.
The term “coaching” has become more commonplace, but coaching is still not happening all that often. Why not? Likely because managers don’t realize it doesn’t need to be its own formal event and take up time — that it can be as easy as having a daily conversation.
Coaching doesn’t need to be an additional task. You can have a coaching conversation in 10 minutes or less. All you need is a good set of questions to get you started and to learn to tame your inner advice monster, which wants to fix every problem (even if it’s the wrong problem).
When managers and leaders make coaching part of their everyday work, they help their employees learn and develop, and they increase focus, resilience and impact. They also minimize their own workload because, as their employees learn, those employees will become better at their jobs and less dependent on their managers.
Who wouldn’t want that?