Leadership is going through massive changes as the Baby Boomers transfer power to emerging leaders in the Gen X, Millennial, and Gen Z generations. That generational change is bringing with it a shift in leadership style, from leaders as capable managers to leaders as great coaches of people.
More and more executives are realizing that the successful leader must be a good coach. But what do good coaches do? The authors discusses each element of these five aspects that make great coaching leaders.
Care: Build Understanding and Trust: These days people will not engage their full selves. They seek a connection with their leader before they will invest themselves wholly in their jobs. That requires leaders to provide a level of access, openness, and depth that once was taboo.
Organize: Get People in Their Sweet Spot: The first task of leader as a coach is to know and understand their team members’ strengths and weaknesses. When people are working in their sweet spot, they are inspired, energized, fulfilled, and passionate about their jobs. Employee surveys and real-time data collection can help build an empowered, well-organized team where everyone is tapping into their strengths. Creating a sweet spot–focused organizational culture necessitates leaders working with their team members directly, not just in an office or conference room.
Align: Unite People Around a Common Vision and Purpose: In many large organizations, people struggle to connect their personal purpose with the organization’s purpose. For many employees, identifying with enterprise-wide goals that seem lofty or disconnected from their day-to-day duties is simply a bridge too far. The leader’s job is to bring those statements to life and make the company’s purpose and values relatable to every employee.
Challenge: Summon People’s Best: The leader as coach must be comfortable stretching people, pushing them out of their comfort zone en route to personal and professional growth. Just as the best athletes and top leaders actively search for coaches who enable them to reach their full potential, so do employees and younger leaders. They aren’t looking for leaders who will make it easy for them; they want to be challenged.
Help: Solve Problems and Celebrate Success: Under command-and-control management, executives created their strategy, structure, and processes and then delegated the work to subordinates for execution. Later they reviewed results and judged people by their numerical outcomes. That hands-off approach won’t fly today as leaders are no longer judges but colleagues. Coaching leaders personally engage with employees in their workplace and help them think through options and solve difficult problems.
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