5 Important Coaching Techniques Every Leader Should Practice

More and more organizations are looking for their managers to use coach-like behaviors in conversations with their direct reports.

Here are five of the most important techniques coaches use in their conversations with clients.

Consider how these techniques could help the managers in your organization be more coach-like in their communication style.

  • Be fully present. Practice being fully present in your conversations with people. Avoid distractions, give undivided attention, and show you care. Of course, we all know this is easier said than done—but this alone can go a long way toward building trust.
  • Get, and keep, the conversation focused. It is easier to help a direct report move forward, faster, if they are the one who declares a specific focus for the discussion. Having them establish a focus creates a more deliberate and intentional conversation. Keep in mind there will be times when the conversation goes off topic. When it does, the manager is expected to get the conversation back on track.
  • Ask mostly open-ended questions, especially those starting with what and how. Open-ended questions promote discovery for the other person. The most essential questions coaches ask are what and how questions that help direct reports discover their own answers or course of action.
  • Stay action focused. Help the direct report create a plan of action that will move them forward. Share coaching questions such as “What do you think you need to do now?” As much as possible, keep the ownership of the plan, and any actions, in the direct report’s court. Actions they take may turn out to be excellent growth opportunities. Keeping the ball in the other court allows managers to get on to other things on their to-do list.
  • Follow up. Check in with direct reports on their progress, their learnings, and any challenges they might be facing. Doing this helps them keep what they said they would do top of mind. It also shows them again that you care—which is never a bad thing.

There are many ways for managers to incorporate a coaching style to help people develop more competence and confidence. The ideas above are in no way a complete list, but I encourage you to have the managers in your organization give them a try. Practicing coach-like behaviors in your conversations creates a learning environment not only for those you coach, but for you as well.

Let me know how it goes!

About the Author

Joanne Maynard headshot.jpegJoanne Maynard is a senior coach 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.

8 thoughts on “5 Important Coaching Techniques Every Leader Should Practice

  1. Great reminder, very succinctly put. Managers who cultivate a coaching style of interaction are highly significant in establishing a ‘coaching-style’ culture in the wider organisation. That goes a long way in encouraging buy-in amongst all employees. And you are right – if a manager treats reports with due respect by listening carefully and teasing out and trusting their solutions, that helps build trust in the relationship. All good!

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  3. Yes, I agree with you. I spoke with someone 3 months ago, and this person has trust issues. Little things like giving undivided attention, showing care and remembering little details made this person open up completely. Most people don’t know the power of effective communication, so they often undermine it. I enjoyed reading your article! keep the good work.

  4. Every day I see how providing people our undivided attention is so valuable because we are becoming increasingly more fractured – also on a daily basis.

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