How often do you take the time to reflect on who you are and how you want to lead? If you finished last year tired, stressed and with a long ‘to-do list still outstanding, it might be time to add coaching capability to your leadership toolkit. (The people you lead will benefit too!)

Here are five things that you may not be aware of, and that leaders who coach know:

1. It’s okay not to have all the answers
This is an especially important one for new leaders… Nobody expects that you will have all the answers yourself. In fact your team want to be involved in creating the answers!

Leaders who coach are curious and draw wisdom from the team. In doing so they empower others to contribute, resulting in shared accountability for the outcome.

2. Leader’s technical expertise is secondary
Your technical expertise is often what gets your promoted. You are an excellent lawyer – let’s get you leading the legal team! Here the rules of the game change. As a leader, your success comes from the team’s success, and not your own – it’s now your leadership expertise that matters.

3. People want feedback
People actually want the bad news that you don’t want to give them. Research* has found that people want corrective feedback more than praise, providing it’s given in constructive manner. 72% said their performance would improve if their manager provided corrective feedback.

4. Questions trump directions
When you give directions, the person’s ‘rational brain’ may be listening, but this won’t necessary help with recall or ownership.

Questions are more likely to lead to self-discovery and insight. Solving a puzzle is inherently rewarding to the brain, engaging the ‘emotional brain’ and increasing the chance they will remember and apply the learning. Stop telling – start asking.

5. Working less is working more
The need to control people and situations results is exhausting! Having a queue of people outside your office door looking for you to provide the answers may be good for your ego, but it’s not good for your career or your health! And it’s certainly not good for your team. A coaching approach helps you ‘work’ less and empower more.

A client recently told me: ’I am getting the best results ever. My team is engaged, my direct reports are learning and stepping up. I am having great conversations that push boundaries. And yet I feel like I am working less! I wish I had learned a coaching approach years ago.’

With coaching skills added to your leadership tool kit, you will be equipped to engage, develop and lead your people. Imagine the impact of that right across the organisation.

*Zenger, J. & Folkman, J. (2014, January 15,) Harvard Business Review: Your Employees Want the Negative Feedback you Hate to Give.


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