How to Be a Good Leader: Key Coaching Skills for Effective Leadership
In the past, most people began successful careers by developing expertise in a technical, functional, or professional domain. Doing your job well meant having the right answers. If you could prove yourself that way, you’d rise up the ladder and eventually move into people management — at which point you had to ensure that your subordinates had those same answers.
Command and control were the name of the game, and your goal was to direct and develop employees who understood how the business worked and were able to reproduce its previous successes.
Not today. Rapid, constant, and disruptive change is now the norm, and what succeeded in the past is no longer a guide to what will succeed in the future.
What is leadership coaching?
To cope with this new reality, companies are moving away from traditional command-and-control practices and toward something very different: a model in which leaders give support and guidance rather than instructions, and employees learn how to adapt to constantly changing environments in ways that unleash fresh energy, innovation, and commitment.
Employees no longer want to work just to keep their job. They want to work to be a part of something bigger than themselves. Great leaders understand the importance of creating belonging and providing inspiration to increase motivation in their teams. A proven way to do this is through essential coaching skills.
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More and more companies are investing in training their leaders as coaches. Increasingly, coaching is becoming integral to the fabric of a learning culture — a skill that good managers at all levels need to develop and deploy.
Effective coaching skills take practice, but the improvement in team cohesion will be evident almost immediately.
How to be a leader at work
Improve stress management
Healthy stress builds skills and confidence, where excess pressure builds distress. Don’t whip your team. Employees respect a hard-working leader rather than being afraid of a fear-mongering leader. Leading by example is incredibly important.
Teams that feel the stress is shared are far more likely to be motivated in helping with forward motion. Delegating responsibility is a great way to introduce a healthier growth mindset in a team.
When things get “hot,” you get “cool”. When things are “cool”, it’s time to ramp things up. An effective leader manages their reactions to stressful situations well. Self-awareness is a skill that can be cultivated. It is incredibly helpful when leading a group of people.
Learn how to deal with failure and celebrate success
Don’t punish failure, as it is part of success. Coaching an employee through a mistake is a much better approach. Nobody ever got to be the best at something without doing it wrong along the way. An effective leader helps their team to learn from their errors to avoid them in the future.
Celebrate valued work and accomplishment. Take the time for each individual to know they are heard and valued in your team. One to one communication is very effective in helping your team to stay on track toward common goals. Every employee needs to know they’re useful.
Infuse positivity into your team. When employees know their strengths and can consistently build their work from those strengths, a more cohesive workplace may be forged. Creating space for celebrating what is working for a team is a pathway for continued growth.
Key leadership skills
The necessary harder ‘soft skills’:
Active listening is a powerful skill to cultivate as a leader. Some employees may need added support due to personal adversity, as well. Supportive, active listening benefits a team with trust and understanding. Here are a few ways to improve this important coaching skill:
- Eye contact, full focus on the other person
- Mirror body language
- Mindful posture
- Talk less, listen more and ask more questions
- Listen for understanding — not just to reply
- Deliberate, mindful speech — choose your words wisely
- Positive reinforcement — celebrate the wins
- Remember what was spoken
- Paraphrase, clarify, and reflect back what was said
- Provide feedback with permission — remember that people respond well to feeling respected and asked to be given feedback. Asking people how they want to receive the feedback makes it well received.
Empathy is another coaching skill that is much needed in the workplace. Employees are human beings. A leader who sees them as such, while still expecting the bottom line to be protected, will find a more connected team. Expressing empathy need not prevent you from holding people to high standards. You may fear that empathising is equivalent to excusing poor performance but this is a false dichotomy.
Empathising with the difficulties your employees face is an important step in the process of helping them build resilience and learn from setbacks. After you’ve acknowledged an employee’s struggles and feelings, they’re more likely to respond to your efforts to motivate improved performance, and to build a trusting relationship.
It is important to point out, however, that proper coach training is a crucial part of becoming a successful coach-leader. Shaw Academy provides an introduction to coaching certification, which will provide the necessary training to start incorporating coaching as a way of being into your leadership role!
Want to learn more? Join our top online coaching course today!