This Coaching Tuesday guest post is by Lynn McCreery.
In a world that sometimes seems increasingly divisive, wary, and isolating, I often think about the role coaches and leaders play in creating the proper environment for the people we lead and influence. We are there to help them feel safe and confident in knowing our primary focus is to help them—and the organization they serve—reach their potential.
I always smile when Ken Blanchard asks audiences “How many of you want to make the world a better place?” All the hands go up. “How many of you have a plan for making that happen?” All the hands go down. It may sound simple, but if we really want to make a difference in the lives of people around us, perhaps we need to start by looking at the quality of our personal interactions.
- First, consider if we are helping others move forward. Our goal is to help people grow; help them figure out what they need to be the best they can be; and help them unleash their power, their potential, and their passion about themselves and what they can accomplish. We want people to see not only the specifics of what they are trying to accomplish but also the relevance and attainability of the goal. We also want them to examine their motivation. Where do they want to be—and how do they get there?
- Second, are we listening? Do we listen with the intent to understand and to be influenced? Do we explore and ask questions to discover the real issues? Do we acknowledge what we have heard before jumping in with what we think? Coaching and leading are all about helping people discover their capabilities and what they need to move forward.
- Third, let’s all take a closer look at the language we use when we try to help. Are we being specific and non-judgmental? Often times, we use words and phrases that sound a lot like judgment and evaluation: You don’t take initiative. You don’t put in enough effort. You don’t take ownership. Sometimes we make matters worse by suggesting non-specific ways to change, such as You need to be more accountable. You need to improve your leadership. You need to get better. Evaluating someone’s performance without providing a clear picture of how they can improve leads only to defensiveness.
- Fourth, do we as leaders and coaches always affirm the other person? Do we convey that we value and respect each person we are talking to? Do they leave the conversation knowing some actions to take and believing more in their ability to improve and achieve their goals? Do they walk away with an enhanced sense of self?
Many people will tell you that the world is in need of a new leadership model. I agree. The question is whether we have a plan for making that happen. Maybe if our actions and words convey that we listen, care, and are available for support, we can help our part of the world move forward. Your thoughts?
About the Author
Lynn McCreery is a Senior Consulting Partner with The Ken Blanchard Companies.