What do riding a bike, being a first-time manager, and coaching have in common? You’ll soon find out.
Over the weekend I spent some time in the local park enjoying a bit of sunshine and doing some people watching. For several minutes I watched a young couple as they were teaching their son how to ride a bike. Mom and Dad offered tons of support and encouragement, a fair amount of direction, and they didn’t let go until the son felt pretty confident that he was ready to pedal on his own.
As it often happens, the boy had a small crash but no serious injuries. Again Mom and Dad stepped in with encouragement and some coaching. I heard “Crashing is normal. We’re proud of you, and we know you’ll get it. What will make you want to get back on the bike again?”
On the second round, Mom and Dad let go a little earlier and offered a little less direction. Within twenty minutes, their son was pedaling away and having the time of his life.
Okay, on to you—or someone you know—being a first-time leader.
Your organization sees something in you. You are very good at what you do: you have technical skills, knowledge, and abilities within the scope of your role. You are so good, in fact, that you get promoted to a position where you are leading others. At this point does your manager, HR, or anyone else in the organization help you keep your balance? Do they shout encouragement? Do they believe in you wholeheartedly?
When you crash—and you will—do others help you dust yourself off, learn from your mistake, and try again? And as you gain skill, do they move back a step or two, eventually letting you lead all on your own?
Most first time managers would answer “No, this doesn’t happen.” More on that later.
So what does this have in common with coaching? No one comes out of the womb as a fully minted leader—to be effective in the role, most people need to learn a special set of skills. Leading people is a complex, multifaceted, and fascinating job—but you can learn to do it and do it well.
A great guide, whether in the form of a trusted mentor, a great boss, or a professional coach, will help you focus on key areas. Perhaps you want to move from someone who does things, to someone who influences people. Maybe it’s about crystallizing your vision or your leadership point of view. Or you may need help to get comfortable telling your truth, redirecting, or following up with someone after a task is completed.
A coach can stabilize your ride, trusting that you will pedal off successfully. Having someone there to keep you balanced when you take off helps you learn new skills, make use of them, and pay attention to what it takes to lead others. A good coach can help every step of the way.
See you on the bike path soon!
PS: For more information on how to become an effective first-time manager, check out the First-time Manager web page at The Ken Blanchard Companies web site.
About the Author
Patricia Overland is a Coaching Solutions Partner with The Ken Blanchard Companies’ Coaching Services team. Since 2000, Blanchard’s 130 coaches have worked with over 14,500 individuals in more than 250 companies throughout the world. Learn more at Blanchard Coaching Services. And check out Coaching Tuesday every week at Blanchard LeaderChat for ideas, research, and inspirations from the world of executive coaching.