Thursday, December 13, 2018
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Great Leaders Are Great Coaches

by Kathy Cooperman

Are you a coach? A well-known proverb wisely states: “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”
Last week I facilitated an executive team at its annual kickoff meeting. I asked the leaders to describe the best coaches they had worked with. In small groups, they identified characteristics that the most memorable coaches demonstrated day after day. Some recalled sports coaches from school; some reflected on Scout leaders; others mentioned debate or chess coaches. A wide variety of coaches were discussed.

According to this team of 11 leaders, the very best coaches shared these characteristics:
• Care and concern
• Empathy/great listening skills
• Trustworthiness
• Led by example
• Provided constructive feedback
• “Had my back”
• Communicated clear goals and expectations
• Held people accountable
• Patient but tough when needed
• Respected by all

Coaching can have big payoffs. Studies show that the return on investment (ROI) from coaching has a long-term impact on performance — lasting approximately seven years compared with a few months for only attending a seminar.

What does it take to become a coach? There are two sets of coaching skills:
1. Coaching for excellence
2. Coaching for improved performance

This month I’ll focus on the first type: coaching for excellence. Next month I’ll discuss coaching for improved performance.

Coaching for Excellence
Use this type for the individual who is already a strong performer. These are your “high potentials” — those you are grooming to move into future leadership roles.

Hold regular one-on-one meetings. A helpful acronym to remember is GROW*:

Goals. Ask what the individual wants to accomplish. Ask open-ended questions to gather as much information as possible. For example, some questions to help the person identify important goals include:
• What would you like to achieve?
• What value would achieving this goal bring?

Realistic. Ask how realistic the goal is. How will it cause the person to stretch and grow? Examples:
• What have you tried so far?
• What is the current situation?
• What barriers exist in achieving that goal?

Options. Ask what alternatives they have considered. Exploring several options is more effective than jumping to the first one that comes to mind. Examples:
• What do you need to do to achieve that goal?
• When have you seen this approach work?
• What are the pros and cons of this approach?
• What other options have you considered?

Wrap Up. This is where you guide the employee to implementation and beyond. Examples:
• What are your next steps (actions)?
• What is your timeline for achieving this goal?
• What support do you need?
• How will you measure your progress?

Notice that the key to success in coaching is about guiding the employee (coachee) by using skillfully developed questions. This takes practice and is more effective than simply telling the employee what to do. Commitment “grows” as you help the coachee discover the best solution to achieving challenging and meaningful goals.

*John Whitmore, “Coaching for Performance,” 2017

Kathy Cooperman, an executive coach and leadership expert, is the president and founder of KC Leadership Consulting LLC. For more information, contact her at, or 720.542.3324.

Submitted 288 days ago
Categories: categoryLeader Acceleration
Views: 620