So here we are heading into the end of 2020, and there are still a lot of challenges.
What I am hearing from leaders is they are tired. Their people are tired.
I’m hearing that motivation is falling.
I’m hearing that there’s not as much connection as there was in the early stages of the COVID response, simply because people are not face-to-face as much of the time…if at all. And while online is great, it’s just not the same as being in the same workplace.
I’m hearing that teams are not as in sync as they were.
I’m hearing that there’s not enough clarity on what we’re all supposed to be working on.
I’m hearing that people are getting less connected with the purpose of their teams and their organisation.
I’m hearing that people’s energy is falling because the change just continues and there is no end in sight.
All of this represents a leadership challenge.
And the thing is, there is no ‘when COVID is over.’ This is the ultra-marathon of transformation, and there is no end in sight.
So if you are a leader, what do you do right now?
What do you do to set yourself and your team and your organisation up for a sustainable future? One in which you can thrive and flourish and look for opportunities rather than simply struggling to get through day by day. And I say this because this is what I’m hearing from leaders. It is a struggle.
You need people to engage. You need people to adapt. You need people to think and do and be different in their work and in their life because the conditions, the world, the context in which we live and work and operate, is different. So we all need to adapt in order to survive and especially if we aim to thrive.
So leaders, how are you going to facilitate that?
How are you going to make that happen?
I strongly believe coaching is one of your big opportunities here. Using a coaching approach and implementing a coaching capability to support yourself, your leaders, your team, your organisation, your industry, your future, is something that you can do. Coaching can operate and apply on so many levels.
You already know that coaching is powerful in supporting and developing people. Yet it is underutilised in our workplaces. There are so many missed opportunities.
Coaching is also very powerful for helping people to make different choices, to modify and adapt their behaviours and thinking, which today is imperative to success.
Coaching activities, like one-on-one coaching, team coaching, and workgroup coaching, with people who have coaching skills, whether they’re leaders, managers, internal coach practitioners or external coach practitioners, are one of the most helpful ways to achieve the goals of a change process or activity. (from 2018 HCI ICF study)
If you want things to change, if you want your people to adapt, then coaching is a key success factor in making this happen.
If you want your people to be engaged and you want your organisation to be at the forefront of its industry, then a strong coaching culture makes a difference. (from 2017 HCI ICF study)
If you want your people to grow and develop and you want to retain them, then you need to offer them development opportunities, career advancement and flexibility at work. Coaching supports all of these things.
So if you and your leaders do not yet know how to coach, if you do not have an adequate coaching toolkit, an adequate coaching approach in your leadership, and a plan to further develop your organisational coaching capability then you need to act now to address this.
And beware, most leaders who believe they are using a coaching approach, are not. In their study reported in HBR, Julie Milner and Trenton Milner found that ‘when initially asked to coach, many managers instead demonstrated a form of consulting. Essentially, giving advice or a solution.’
They also found that ‘coaching is a skill that needs to be learned and honed over time … and that a lack of training leaves managers unprepared and potentially reinforcing poor coaching practices among themselves.’
The good news is that leaders can learn to coach, and can make progress with a relatively small level of training.
If you have managers who are focused on performance improvement and spot-fixing, the foundation skills of coaching will give them better outcomes.
If you want to enhance organisational process, for example how feedback is offered, performance review and development processes are managed and so on, then leaders and managers need to be using a coaching approach at a more developed level. This is about process coaching, the how we do things around here.
If you really want to create systemic change, transform your organisation, and elevate the practice of leadership in your organisation, then you need to be targeting coaching at the inner game, the ‘who’. And this is where you get strategic impact. You use a coaching approach that will support changing the inner game of your leaders, of your thinkers, of your organisational community. And to execute this requires a more sophisticated level of coaching capability in your organisation.
Remember that the world needs your contribution. You have something that nobody else can offer. You’re unique. You make a contribution that is special to you. So don’t feel shy about offering it. Step up and do what you do. Make a contribution, make your difference. We need that.
I’d love to know your thoughts.
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AND: Whenever you’re ready… here are 4 ways I can help you grow your coaching and leadership: