What is the coach approach to leadership?05 Jun 2019
Have you ever had a leader who’s made you feel empowered and invested in the team, and helped you achieve a huge level of growth? I have, and I remember well the impact it had on me. She used the coach approach to leadership and created one of the strongest teams I’ve been a part of as a result.
What defines this style of management and should you consider using the coach approach for your team?
Defining the coach approach to leadership
The idea of a coaching leadership style isn’t a new one. It was first put forward back in the late 1960s. In 2002 it was further cemented as one of six methods for team management by Daniel Goleman.
However, just because it isn’t a new idea, doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have merit. In fact, given that some of the top tech leaders invest in business coaching, it suggests there are a lot of benefits to consider.
So, what’s at the core of the coach approach?
- Growth – For the team and each of its members.
- Collaboration – Open lines of communication ensure team members can always approach their manager with thoughts and suggestions.
- Personal approach – Regularly touche base with the team collectively and on an individual basis, creating a solid partnership. The leaders get to know each employee, find ways to align personal goals with the teams and are focused on helping everyone succeed.
- Long-term focus – Separate short-term successes are less important than developing the team over the long run. This might mean employees are set challenging assignments to help them grow, even if it means the results aren’t perfect.
- Hierarchy – While collaboration and communication are highly important for the coach approach, there’s still a distinct hierarchy in place. The manager gives clear expectations and sets direction. They’ll delegate tasks to team members that fit in with their personal aims, and provide accountability and support.
Developing your coaching leadership style
Knowing how to coach people isn’t an inherent skill. I know many people who are reigning experts in their fields yet cannot teach the subject to others. Similarly, many people invest in leadership training as they move up through a business to learn how to manage a team, because it doesn’t come naturally. However, it’s possible to break down the coach approach into different skill sets that you can develop, such as communication skills, emotional intelligence and giving feedback.
Learn how to ask open-ended questions that require people to think and consider, rather than simply providing solutions to your employees. The language you use in communication with your team is also important – is it fostering collaboration and encouraging innovation and growth among your team members?
Communicating with impact includes listening as well. Active listening skills are the key to being a good mentor, as truly hearing and understanding what drives your team members allows you to better engage with them.
To become a great coach, you need to care about and relate to your team. Building your emotional intelligence helps you to develop empathy and create rapport with each team member. Strong relationships with your team allows you to push them to achieve bigger and better things as they trust that you’re on their side.
I always thought feedback was a simple matter. However, over the years I’ve learnt there’s a real skill to conveying feedback in a manner that motivates, rather than disheartens, the other party. Focus on treating it as a positive learning process, where you’re building them up and showing them how they can improve instead of pointing out where they went wrong.
If you want to become a better leader, ICML can help. We offer coaching and management courses throughout Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, which are designed to teach you how you can empower and develop your team.