How does coaching accelerate the development of a leader?
Being a coach, it’s easy to see how coaches have an undeniable positive impact on the development of leaders. But how?
Client: When a leader takes action to make progress on an initiative he or she is pioneering, it is a great chance for coaches to maximize a learning opportunity with clients.
Example: A leader has noticed that he is doing most of the talking when leading his team and not doing as much listening. With his new awareness, he commits to listening more and talking less, asking questions to draw team members in versus dominating the discussion. This is a new way for him to interact, which may feel foreign at first. Over time, however, as the leader practices, he will grow in his ability to listen and ask questions.
Once a leader has taken action it is important to pause and help them process what they can learn from their experience. This leads into the next phase of the learning process.
Mining the Gold
Now that the leader (your client) has tested out his or her new approach, the coach (you) helps the leader process and reflect on how it went. This helps the leader extract new learnings that are hidden below the surface. I call this “mining the gold.”
It is in this place that true learning can be maximized.
Coach: A coach helps a leader reflect on the way she listened and how it impacted her team. This is where her learning is maximized.
From the scenario above, the leader’s insights might be:
- Better engagement by team members
- More ownership from the team
- Greater impact
Move the learning forward!
Once the client clarifies his or her new learning(s), the coach can help the leader take those fresh insights and build on it by moving his/her thoughts forward into new ways of thinking and behaving.
Coach: A coach asks, “How can you move that learning forward?”
Here are some examples of ways the leader could move the learning forward:
- Before giving input, summarize what team members are saying
- Ask team members if the summary is accurate and complete
- To help team members continue their processing, ask, “…Is there more?”
This completes the cycle of accelerating the developmental process. When a coach does this on a regular basis, the pace of change increases. Without a coach this process gets bogged down or stalled unless the leader has already learned the importance of this reflection.
In summary, here is the whole process:
The process of identifying and applying new learnings: moving the learning forward
- Take action – the leader commits him/herself to a particular action
- Reflect on key insights – the coach helps the leader reflect on key insights
- Capture the insight – the coach helps the leader clarify these in behavioral terms
- Brainstorm ways to apply – the coach helps the leader identify new insight(s) into new ways of thinking or behaving
- Take action – the leader applies the action in a real situation to reinforce the learning
Here are three tips to help you move the learning forward with leaders you coach:
- Give leaders the time they need to process their learnings
- Don’t interfere by interjecting YOUR insights
- Let the client do the heavy lifting (become comfortable with silence)
Most leaders fail to give ample time to reflect due to the busyness of life and ministry. They don’t believe they can afford the time that’s required to go through the exercise. When left on their own, chances are they will give in to the “tyranny of the urgent.”
However, leaders can’t afford NOT to adopt this process, as it will eventually and certainly catch up with them (often when they least expect it!). So serve the leaders well that are under your care.
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Photo by Frederik Löwer on Unsplash