mproving your coaching skills as a manager is crucial, as it enables you to lead with empathy, insight, and a focus on growth for both individuals and the team. Let’s explore how you can build those skills.

According to Daniel Goleman, there are six styles of leadership. A leader isn’t defined as being one style or another—a good leader employs whatever style is necessary, given the situation.

Which of these styles do you think is the most underused?

  1. Visionary — mobilize people toward a vision
  2. Coaching — develop people for the future
  3. Affiliative — create emotional bonds and harmony
  4. Democratic — build consensus through participation
  5. Pacesetting — expect excellence and self-direction
  6. Commanding — demand immediate compliance

If you chose coaching, you’re right! Because coaching doesn’t have the same immediacy as the other leadership styles, both in terms of necessity and results, it tends to get neglected.

This can be detrimental to your organization. Daniel Goleman says leaders who master four or more styles—especially commanding, democratic, affiliative, and coaching—have the best climate and business performance.

Many leaders report they don’t have the skills to effectively coach their employees. But a leadership style is a tool, not a personality trait, and thus can be learned.

Developing a Coaching Habit

Michael Bungay Stanier, author of The Coaching Habit, says coaching should be a daily, informal act, and if you know which questions to ask, you can coach someone in 10 minutes or less. It’s about helping your team members quickly figure out their own paths, while sharing your advice and wisdom in the right dosage at the right time.

His seven essential Coaching questions begins by opening up the conversation, and ends on a positive note:

  1. The Kickstart Question
    The Kickstart Question opens things up—for example, “What’s on your mind?”
  2. The AWE Question
    By asking the AWE Question (“And what else?”) you ensure that you and the team member are not missing something important, and you generate more content for the next five questions.
  3. The Focus Question
    The Focus Question (e.g., “What is the real challenge here for you?”) begins to narrow the topic, and again supports the next few questions.
  4. The Foundation Question
    The Foundation Question takes us to the heart of the matter so that our attention is where it needs to be. Some examples: “What do you want?” or “What do you really want here?”
  5. The Lazy Question
    By asking the Lazy Question (“How can I help?”), we learn what the person wants us to do (e.g., listen, support, encourage).
  6. The Strategic Question
    The Strategic Question is “If you are saying Yes to this, what are you saying No to?” This question helps the team member acknowledge trade-offs, and values.
  7. The Learning Question
    The session ends with the Learning Question, which reinforces knowledge and closes the conversation on a positive note. For example, “What was most useful or valuable here for you?”

Coaching is a leadership style that generates a positive climate. When you develop a coaching mindset, you focus on your employees’ potential and their continuous development, building a stronger, more independent team.

So what coaching habits do you need to develop?

Coaching Questions for Leaders

Questions are the most important ingredient in coaching. Leadership and management development expert Dan McCarthy says coaching isn’t telling the employee what to do – it’s helping the employee come up with his or her own answers by asking the right question at the right time.

In his post 70 Awesome Coaching Questions for Managers Using the GROW Model, he categorizes the important questions to ask within the GROW framework.

By matching powerful questioning with deep listening, managers can help their employees improve performance, solve problems, make better decisions, learn new skills, and reach their career goals.

GROW Coaching Model for Managers

Working within the parameters of a time-tested framework is one way to understand the coaching process. GROW, an effective model for coaching that’s been around for more than 30 years, stands for:

Goal setting: define the short- and long-term goals

Reality: explore the current situation

Options: identify and evaluate different action strategies

Way forward: what will you do by when?

The GROW coaching model has been described as a journey—deciding where you’re going (goal), knowing where you are now (reality), exploring the various routes to your destination (options), and committing to arriving there (way forward), while preparing to meet the obstacles along the way.

How to Improve Coaching Skills for Managers

Interested in hands-on, interactive training for your team? Consider Manager as Coach, our in-person or virtual team training solution. Contact us to learn more.

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