With the vast changes in leadership and transfer of power to leaders in the Gen X, Millennial and Gen Z generations, it brings on a shift in leadership style from people managers to trusted confidants and coaches.
If you think about it from a sports perspective, athletes often seek out great coaches to help them reach their full potential and to perhaps make them become better coaches themselves one day. So how do we conceptualize leadership as coaching to describe how leaders should be engaging with their people in the workforce?
The first element to focus on is establishing a sense of trust, authenticity and understanding. In today’s environment, employees may not engage their full selves until they truly believe their leader legitimately cares about them – meaning personally connected, which can sound a bit tricky and uncomfortable. So coaching leaders need to demonstrate from day one that they genuinely care about their people – not only about their overall performance and contributions, but also how they are faring in their working lives.
Second would be to understand their team’s strengths and weaknesses as well as motivations and desires at a granular. When teams are working for a leader who understands how to organize and execute based on the team’s chemistry, each team member will be inspired, passionate about their jobs, and ultimately succeed in their work.
Third, it is important to align on the organization’s purpose, culture, and values. Oftentimes, employees feel disconnected from the organization’s enterprise-wide goals and feel the ability to do so is out of reach. That is where the coaching leader comes in – to bring those elements to life and make it relatable to each of their team member’s work.
Fourth, a coach should summon their employee’s best potential. Employees today want to be challenged in their roles and not simply work within their comfort zones. These leaders must be comfortable with the concept of stretching people, enabling them to be better performers and emerge as future leaders.
Lastly, a coaching leader should have the ability to engage with their employees and help them think through options and create solutions for difficult challenges. And when things go well, they should recognize their team member’s accomplishments and celebrate their success.
Collectively these five elements aggregate into a very different and more powerful kind of leadership style. And while every person is inspired by a different combination of these elements, they all collectively matter to your employees regardless of their role within your organization. Leadership coaching sets in motion the fundamentals needed to support a work culture that values diverse experiences and points of view—and thrives on respect and collaboration.