By H. E. James, MBA
Good leaders don’t just manage. Good leaders inspire. Good leaders transform. Good leaders think big. Good leaders show their people the respect they want to earn. Leaders don’t just assign daily tasks and wait for them to be completed. They work with their employees.
Today’s workforce is dominated by millennials. These members of your organization are changing the workplace a number of ways. One of the most influential ways is by demanding mentorship and leadership rather than just management.
If you’re looking for a new way to lead your teams, think about coaching them. Coaching your employees will help you build better relationships with them, and relationships are the secret sauce of employee engagement, which leads, of course, to better performance and much more.
Great coaches always start with goals, whether that’s winning a championship or improving the skills of their team members. Are you putting together a team for a specific project? Are you leading a team every day? Regardless of the type of team, set goals for your team members.
The milestones for a product’s development can be your team’s goals, as could the daily numbers for a sales team. Leaders look at how the goals of a team will contribute to long-term sustainable growth rather than simple maintenance.
The best organizational coaches expect much of their team members. They set high, uncompromising standards. Meeting these standards is expected, but because these leaders have set such inspirational foundations, their teams rise to the occasion, even surpass it. The best leaders embolden their people to set their own goals outside the team, even outside the organization. These goals can, in the long run, benefit the team and the organization.
Once you’ve set your goals and expectation, you have to communicate them. Managers aren’t always great at communicating, and good leaders are better at it. Like a great coach, they regularly communicate with their team, making sure everyone is working from the same playbook.
Coaches who are most adept at communication recognize that it is a two-way street. Invite your players to get involved in the creation of the metaphorical playbook, from setting goals to evaluating performance. Getting your people involved in all steps of a process is how you build a hard-working team.
Each coach has her own philosophy. Not all of them are great, but the best ones often include the concept of collaborative communication. Great coaches always ask for input when designing plays and training regimens. This concept should be practiced among leadership and employees as well.
Coaches in the workplace should ask for input on just about everything. Product teams must be able to communicate with and among each other respecting project statuses and benchmarks. On the other hand, if you’re struggling to motivate your team members, try asking them what they want. It may be simple, but it is effective, and great coaches go right to the source.
Coaches say it all the time after a loss: they’re going to focus on the positives. They say it so often, it starts to sound humorous, almost trite. However, they say it for a good reason: focusing too much on negatives is unmotivating.
Your team may indeed be struggling, but rather than focus on the struggles, look at what your team has accomplished. Great coaches understand the impact positive leadership has on their team members. Even if your product team’s beta test failed, look first to what succeeded.
Then you can focus on needs to be changed, improved, or scrapped, and do so without pointing fingers at individuals. Avoid negative language as much as possible. The best leaders are always positive. Why? Because this projects your enthusiasm. Coaches are enthusiastic, and their enthusiasm motivates. Coaches want motivated team members who will do their best work for the team.
Good leaders have mastered the art of results-driven management without sacrificing teamwork, goals, or the daily practice that meets them. Good leaders are great coaches. If you want your work teams to be successful, start coaching, not just leading. Doing so will get you and your stakeholders the results you want.