And, we’re back!
Claressa and Martha here again, with more thoughts on the ins-and-outs of all things Human Capital. Today’s post focuses on the coaching we do within the organizations we visit. We believe that — whether you’re a manager yourself, or are under the management of another — thoughtful, strategic coaching can transform an entire workplace into a fulfilling environment. Coaching with the intent to enrich, combined with an understanding from all parties that each person can provide a unique perspective, is essential to financial, professional, and personal success at work.
Q: Where do we start when we coach our clients?
Claressa: We had a great conversation recently with a manager regarding coaching. You see, coaching can be a difficult thing to embark upon. You are providing feedback in the hopes that you can close a performance gap(s), and appropriately improve something you feel is lacking in your organization. It can be an uncomfortable conversation to have at times, but it is so important to have those crucial conversations enabling you to properly lead your team.
Martha: So, where do we start? At the top.
We want you to be able to look in the mirror and say, “Yes, as a leader, I have given this group of people everything they need to successfully carry out our common goal.”
Claressa: Our first goal is to make certain that, as a leader, you have provided all the tools needed for your team to be successful. We want you to be able to look in the mirror and say, “Yes, as a leader, I have given this group of people everything they need to successfully carry out our common goal.” So how do we do that? Structure. We make certain that we have created a structure that lays out clear expectations. This way each member of your team understands the “why” behind what they’re doing. The goal is to give your team the ability to choose to be motivated to meet your common goals.
Martha: Depending on the unique strengths of your organization, this can present itself in a variety of ways.
Claressa: First, we’ll help you make sure that, as a leader, you have the necessary groundwork/foundation in place… making sure that the building blocks are there. This means that when your team sits in front of you, their leader, you are confident that you have provided the map, guidance and resources for your team and the organization to be successful.
Once that groundwork is in place, the next step is to make sure everyone is on board. That, as a team, you have reached consensus and you all know what success for your common goal is going to look like. As a leader, your responsibility is to clearly answer questions about this common goal, and to guide your team into the action phase. When you all take those steps — together — making those items actionable, your organization will function harmoniously, using best practices as a team.
Martha: One of the highlights of that coaching session for me was recognizing that leaders are in different places in their ability to coach. On one hand, there are new, inexperienced leaders who might not know how to navigate challenges like difficult employees, or people who aren’t in the right role in the organization. On the other hand, even some of the most experienced leaders lack the skill set needed to be an effective coach or leader. So, really understanding where a leader is on that journey can help move the organization forward successfully.
Q: What is a common coaching challenge our clients face?
Martha: I really appreciate what you said about “creating expectations” and “making sure that everyone is on board.” That’s a challenge for new leaders — being the authority figure without being demanding. Trying to create a balance between being assertive without being aggressive. Providing clear expectations without letting people walk all over you. For me, assessing where a leader is on that spectrum allows me to gauge what tools they need to overcome this common challenge.
Claressa: I love that. I love being able to walk alongside our clients as they understand what you’ve just described. It can be frustrating to feel motivated, to have behaviors that lean toward leadership but still require a lot of fine tuning. It can be frustrating to have a lot of schooling in an area, but not specifically in leadership skills. I love the fact that we get to walk in and walk beside our clients, to help them answer the question, “Is this something I truly desire to do?” And, if so, “What do I need to know to be an effective leader?”
Walking leaders through the steps to success is fun, rewarding, and one of the highlights of our job.
Martha: That’s the beauty of our jobs. While most people are experts in their industry or other specific area of professionalism, our area of expertise is people. We are validating that our clients aren’t “crazy,” and that we have been there— they’re not alone. Walking leaders through the steps to success is fun, rewarding, and one of the highlights of our job.
Claressa: I also want to emphasize the importance of dissecting all of the information. As we sat down with this particular manager, I could see how overwhelming it all was. Here we had an intelligent individual with lofty goals, who was still at baseline, still trying to figure out how to make that first step into the leadership role. Really dissecting the situation, boiling it down to this first step: “Let’s focus on you first, let’s look at what it looks like to be an effective leader.” After that, you move into, “How do I implement this?” And then, “How do I hold people accountable?” Once these foundations are laid, you’ll be able to focus on those loftier goals that you have for your department or your organization.
Martha: Yes, absolutely. Knowing yourself as a leader is the foundational piece needed to lead others well. You have to know who you are, you have to know your strengths, you have to know your opportunities… you even have to have an outside perspective. Having that honest mirror – somebody who is willing to give you the good, the bad, and the ugly. This allows you to move forward effectively and tweak your leadership style to best meet the needs of your people. Getting to know yourself as a leader is mandatory when it comes to being an effective leader.
So what’s the moral of this chat?
Martha: In coaching, in life, in leadership in general, you can’t move forward without a solid foundation, and that foundation starts with you. Getting to know yourself as a leader is mandatory when it comes to being effective in your leadership role.