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Coaching culture – Coach leader – Exercise | Deliberate Practice

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From the post: Creating the coaching culture and the coach leader

Not all of us wake up in the morning hoping to face some crisis or conflict on our teams because it’s so much fun to deal with. There is not one coaching approach that resolves all issues. Every opportunity, challenge, or conflict must be treated individually and with patience. Over time you will develop a coaching approach or strategy that works for you, it takes practice and yes there will be failures on your part. 

The Center for Creative Leadership has some excellent resources for all aspects of leadership. I have pulled a few ideas presented here from one of their research papers on where to start in developing your coaching culture for your team.

Creating a coaching culture for your team starts with you 

First and foremost you need to have established a safe space or environment on your team where people can engage in healthy dialogue without repercussions even when it’s uncomfortable. No one wants to be hauled into the HR office for something they said or did. If at all possible, resolve it in your office.

Ask good questions and then listen to understand. Remember, you are coaching, you are modeling the behaviors you would like to see your team use. You are trying to identify the root of the problem before you try to resolve anything, where did the issue start, or what triggered the misunderstanding. If the situation is still cloudy, ask clarifying questions and keep asking questions until you get to the bottom of the challenge. People learn the most and take accountability when they uncover the answers themselves. Then make sure everyone agrees on what started it and what will they do moving forward, in other words, “Are we all in agreement on ________?”

Take the emotions out of the equation. We can’t stop emotions from happening so tell everyone to suspend emotions so you can focus on the facts. Be positive and supportive during the conversations.

Coach in the moment. Whether someone is asking for help with developing a skill, or help in resolving a problem make the time to do this as soon as possible. Learning best occurs at the moment not weeks later. Most people learn best by doing, so coach as you go. Ask them what they learned from the experience and how they will apply the new knowledge or skill moving forward. 

The coaching continuum – 5 steps

Over the years I have used variations of this approach. Here is the most current version of coaching for improvement. This approach can be used for a variety of situations from conflict to personal improvement.

1. Awareness

Question – What is the current condition?

You first have to understand what’s going on. 

  • What started the conflict? 
  • What created the need for more training? 
  • Where did the need for personal improvement come from?
  • What’s going on between the two workgroups?

2. Desire

Question – What is the ideal outcome?

Now you need a target, what is the result? 

  • How do you want to see this resolved? 
  • Can the group come to a consensus and what would it be? 
  • What do you see as the best outcome?
  • What would you like to see happen? 

3. Knowledge

Question – What can you do to effect change?

In other words, what are you willing to do to improve the situation? 

  • Improve the relationship? 
  • Correct the behavior? 
  • Repair the damage? 
  • What can you assist with? 
  • Where can we make changes?

4. Ability 

Question – What will you commit to?

  • What will you be accountable for?
  • Where do you see yourself in this solution?
  • How will you practice this new behavior?
  • Are you able to identify situations that trigger your reactions?

It’s important to note here the people involved need to hold themselves accountable for the change, so what are they willing to do to hold themselves accountable?

5. Supporting

Question – What have we learned?

  • What was most useful to you?
  • How are you going to use this new skill/knowledge moving forward?
  • How will this make a difference when you are faced with this situation again?

As a leader coach, it is important to anchor the new learning and have the person take ownership by identifying ways they will use what they learned. 

What can we do better? 

As a leader, you can ask questions every morning in team huddles, team meetings, process improvement meetings, and drop-by questions, anytime, anywhere. Coach at the moment, be curious and find out what’s happening. You are responsible for creating and maintaining the coaching culture.

  • What are we trying to achieve?
  • Where are we now?
  • What’s our current condition?
  • What’s currently in our way?
  • What’s our next step and what do we expect?
  • When can we see what we have learned from taking that step?
  • What was our last step? Did that work, why or why not?

Write down these questions in your journal then write other questions or versions of these questions. Make the questions yours and write them to fit your specific situations. I always believe you need to start somewhere so here’s a place to start. 

There will always be situations that are much larger than our ability to manage or coach. Ask for help as soon as you can. Be a wise leader and know your limits. 

Don’t wait for tomorrow, tomorrow never comes. What you have is today and this is the best time to begin anything.

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The Rational Leader – Exercise | Deliberate practice

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The Exercises: