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Are you managing or coaching?

September 16, 2019 by Julie Mitchell

Being a leader – whether it’s your own brand or team – is a mindset that, for many of us, doesn’t come naturally. Frankly, many of us freely admit we fell into the role of a boss as a side effect of being an expert at something else: a marketer, a trainer, a product developer.

That said, being a boss is a skill, and like any other skill, the more we refine and hone, the better we get at it. Through my facilitation with entrepreneurs and in running my businesses, I’ve found that the best way to build more aligned and accountable teams is to think less like a boss and more like a coach. Here’s how:

A coach puts in face-time

The best way to build rapport with anyone is through face-time. And although your team may see you every day in the office and at status meetings and presentations, it’s the one-on-one time with individuals that is the most meaningful.

As with any task, the best way to ensure that these one-on-one check-ins with individual team members happen is to schedule them in advance. Even more critical is to stick to that schedule – even though it’s the meetings with our team members that are the first to shift when our day gets busy.

But the instant you move a meeting with anyone, that person is sent a message that they’re not your priority. When check-ins are shifted or cancelled repeatedly, an individual can start feeling that they don’t matter. These meetings are the ones that should be set in stone because they’re actually the most important meetings you’ll have when it comes to enhancing your overall performance over the long-term.

A coach rallies

When conflict arises, a single conversation can switch on or shut down an employee. When a person is scolded, they default into self-protection to avoid responsibility (aka finger-pointing). Try reflecting on what you both want to achieve, and use the conflict as a way to establish a connection – that you know how the employee feels and then find ways to facilitate change. This gives you an opportunity to use the “wrong” to increase motivation to do right.

A fundamental element of coaching recognizes that your behaviour is mirrored – so if you’re uncomfortable, your team will be, too.

A coach doesn’t have the answers

The difference between a manager and a coach is that managing is authoritative – it’s about overseeing, course correction and advice-giving because you have the knowledge your team doesn’t.

That’s why for many of us in leadership positions, when an employee comes to us with a problem, our natural instinct is to jump in to solve it. But a coaching mindset recognizes that learning takes place through discovery. So take a moment to reflect and ask them: can you solve this?

Sonny Balani

My friend Sonny owns Balani Custom Clothing and even though he has a team that spans 14 U.S. cities, he still manages this so well. Whenever a member of his team calls with a problem his response is: “I can’t talk right now – can you think about what the solution is and if you can’t figure it out, call me in 30 minutes?” More often than not, he doesn’t get that follow-up call.

More tips and tools to help leaders build more aligned and accountable teams can be found in our Delegate & Elevate Workshop. Visit our website for upcoming dates.


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