The Leader As Coach

The Leader As Coach

The purpose of coaching is to help people realize their full potential. Coaching means challenging people to perform at their best and live up to their own great expectations. When people gain clarity on their goals, implement a personal development plan and receive genuine one-on-one attention, they become motivated to change. Growth results from stretching a person’s abilities and thinking as far as possible. Coaching accelerates the process. The test for effective coaching: Are people performing at a higher level because of the coach? Is their behavior different?

Coaching is an act of faith in the other person. It cannot be learned in a book; it must be learned by doing. Coaching generally involves traveling down three roads. The current road (today); the unseen road (potential); and the new road (change). Consequently, the coach must create a safe place for the other person to travel back and forth. Note coaching is not counseling. Counseling focuses on the past. Coaching focuses on the future. It involves advising, guiding and teaching – not telling. As coaching becomes less directive, it becomes more powerful.

The coach must determine what the coachee wants and become an advocate for helping them achieve their vision of success. Leaders must coach to be helpful. Coaching is not helpful when it is about the leader; it must be about the coachee. Coaching is about helping the coachee become more like themselves, not like the leader. Coaching is not a right, it must be earned. The coachee must believe the coach holds himself to the same high standard of performance. The coach must be actively working to realize their own full potential to expect the same of other people.

Coaching is a partnership between the coach and coachee. The coaching partnership requires: Truth. The coach must commit to confronting the coachee to uncover the truth and remove barriers. Action. The coachee must take consistent and intentional action to achieve their vision of success. Accountability. The coach must hold the coachee accountable. The coach must ask the coachee if they did everything possible to achieve the desired result. If not, the coachee must take additional action. If the three requirements do not exist, the coaching partnership will dissolve.

People instinctively know how their leaders rate them. They know in what performance category they have been placed. A leader’s verbal and non-verbal cues convey their thoughts and level of expectations about other people. People interpret the cues and adjust their behavior accordingly. That is, people live up or down to the level of expectations set for them. Consequently, leaders consistently receive what they expect from others. The leader’s expectation level for the other person becomes a direct predictor of their performance, good or bad.

Effective coaching focuses on helping people unleash their talent and realize their full potential. Coaches must see the best in people and remind them of their strengths, not their weaknesses. People do not get inspired by their weaknesses. By focusing on strengths, leaders create a culture of high performance. Focusing on strengths helps people overcome self-imposed limitations and thereby increases their possibilities. People regain control and influence over their future. When leaders communicate high expectations, they get the best from others.

Coaching involves having an intense dialogue to confront and seek answers to difficult questions. The coach does not provide answers to the coachee. The coachee directs their own personal change. The coach helps the coachee uncover answers by asking questions and providing information. Questions help the coach avoid giving specific advice and answers, but inspire self-reflection. The coach also provides information to the coachee for reaction and thinking. If the coach incorporates war stories into the dialogue, they are used for perspective only, not answers.

While intense dialogue can become uncomfortable and outcomes unpredictable, the coach must continue to engage with the coachee. They must continue to push for the truth and tell the truth. When confronting the coachee, the coach must think emphatically. People do not care how much you know until they know how much you care. The coachee must see the coach as a fellow human being, not a superior. People communicate to help, hurt or impress others. The coach must constantly reflect on the intent behind their words. Leaders must always coach to be helpful.

All contents copyright © 2013, Josh Lowry. All rights reserved.


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