My conversations this month have focused on coaching as part of developing a bespoke coaching programme for senior leaders, and the challenge of highly experienced sales leaders coaching their sales teams.  I am reminded again of what the data tells us and has been telling us for years and it’s stark: you’re not as good a coach as you think.

Research going back more than 20 years has reinforced engagement surveys of several global brands with whom I have partnered for more than a decade.   All of them – yes all of them – reinforce what Daniel Goleman talked about when he asked executives to self-assess their coaching capability and compare it to the perception of their skills from the people whom they coached.  There was a mismatch – a significant one – and this difference I have come across repeatedly.   
So, irrespective how long we’ve coached, how do leaders everywhere really need to sharpen their coaching skills?

Here are my top tips:

*Get your ‘why coach’ story clear to improve buy-in, because otherwise your team don’t get it, won’t see the value of it and it won’t work.

* Don’t save coaching for 1:1s.  Brilliant coaches effortlessly coach within everyday conversations.  Coaching isn’t a ‘special event’ where you ‘do some coaching’.

* Having said that, make sure you understand what 1:1s really are.  They are very different types of conversations from all the other discussions and so the chance to have a rich, expansive, extensive coaching discussion during 1:1s.

* Each person in your team should have a development plan (irrespective of whether or not they want climb the career ladder in the future).  Why?  Because we all get tired and stale in our role if we don’t – and worse – we don’t even realise it.

* Understand the difference between coaching, mentoring, advising, directing, empowering, motivating, enthusing, influencing and how it can transform the engagement and performance of your people no matter how long they’ve been in post, how skilled they are, how engaged they are. 

* Stop passing the buck.  If your team aren’t continually improving their capabilities …then that’s on you.  It’s the job of a leader to improve the capabilities of their team and keep them engaged.

* You’ve always got time for it.  If you talk to your teams every day, then you’ve got time to coach…because that’s where you can coach brilliantly.

* Prepare better for the discussion with far better questions.

* Stop telling all the time.  Coaching helps people think, act, and own their own success.

* Show up fully and stay present… your emails, pings, messages etc. can all wait.  If they can’t, you’re not delegating sufficiently and developing your team to be able to step away from madness and have quality time with your team.

* No-one is perfect.  No matter how superb your team are, everyone can hone their skills.  Always.  Ask any high performance athlete.  Who do they credit when they conquer the world in their chosen sport?  Their coach.

Until next time….

Sarah Brummitt