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February 16, 2011
Provided that effective leaders exists in an organisation and employees have no fear about consultations with those in positions of leadership, leaders are considered as the go to guy when things go wrong or help in any form is needed. Being a good leader does not necessarily make an individual a good leader though and when providing guidance and coaching to people, a multitude of problems can be created. So when we are required to provide guidance and coaching to others, how do we ensure that this coaching we provide as leaders is effective and constructive? This was the question we discussed today in lectures.
Many many ideas of what is required to provide effective coaching were discussed but it boiled down to this. Effective coaching requires a leader to provide: guidance, focus, support, planning, empowerment.
In other words, when coaching others a leader should listen to the problem and lead the individual into their own solution by prompting them with the right questions. By doing this, a leader should not have to provide the individual with a solution since the individual will solve the problem themselves. This method empowers individuals, gives them confidence in their own abilities, create trust between leadership and employees, prevents leadership appearing dictatorial by imposing their own problem solutions, and prevents the need for the leadership to be an expert in all of the activities of their followers.
When you think about it... this reeeeaaally makes alot of sense. I mean, it even makes the leaders life easier because they don't actually have to know the answers all the time! I personally experienced this today during a role play exercise where I was coaching a colleague. Despite have no knowledge of the problem I managed to help guide him to create his own solution to the problem. This was without a doubt a eureka moment. While I've often given guidance to individuals in the past, I'd always been knowledgeable in the topic where I was helping them. I'd never really considered before that you could effectively coach someone without being knowledgeable in the topic but today really drummed in the effectiveness in all coaching situations of this method of guidance. Coaching in this style becomes a win-win for the coach and coachee I say. Surely everybody in a position of coaching would already know how much sense it makes and employ this tactic, it just wouldn't make any sense not to. And yet they don't! Crazy isn't it?
How many times in your lives have you attended coaching/training/guidance/whatever sessions for whatever reason and all that happened was that you were talked at, not with, and told the solutions to something by somebody who doesn't know anything about it!!! The number of times I've discussed an issue with managers, guidance counsellors, and the like where all that has happened is they have told me their pre-subscribed solution to a generic problem that is not only inapplicable, but completely uninformative. Yes there have been times where I have been genuinly helped through these means, but why has this been so rare? I understand that change is at times difficult to accept, so changing stlyes of coaching may be equally difficult for leaders. But then again, in a position of leadership where coaching is requisit, shouldn't the very idea that people will always come to you with different problems mean you should not be averse to change since you will constantly have to be developing new solutions to new problems?