Imagine a workplace culture where your leader lets you determine how to do your job. Imagine a leader who always listens and supports you. Imagine a leader that balances their support with challenging you to do your best, whilst all the time believing that you are capable of more than you think.
That's what a coaching style of leadership is like. Of course there are many different leadership styles. Coaching as a way of leading is one way that the leader can develop their high performing team and organisation, and a coaching culture is similarly seen as a way towards high-performing organisations.
I myself use coaching as a way of leading at work. I have written about coaching in the operating theatre, and the article published in Association for Coaching's magazine Coaching Perspectives can be accessed below.
Download article here
How to develop a coaching style of leadership?
Coaches, and leaders who use coaching leadership styles, have both a set of attitudes and a set of skills.
Coaching style leaders see their team members as
-capable of more than they think
-wanting to do their best
-experts at the roles they do
These attitudes are actually quite difficult for managers and leaders to adopt, because most of us in leadership roles like to think of ourselves as senior experts, and we don't want to give up control. Whilst most leaders will appreciate that a solution that the team member develops is likely to be one that they own and celebrate, allowing others to come up with solutions might take time, and involves the leader giving up control and being willing to experiment. In the long term, employee-developed solutions are likely to be better accepted than ones imposed on them, but in the short term the leader needs to let go, and trust the team to come up with what works best for the team.
-Listening is a crucial skill, and coaching style leaders spend their time listening rather than trying to solve other people's problems.
-High quality questions are open, non-judgemental, and assume that positive outcomes are possible. Good questions start with "how" and "what". "Why" can come across as judgemental and may be best avoided.
-Challenge is important too, so that the team develops their full potential. However, challenge needs to be balanced with support. If there is just support it's all very cosy but performance may not be great, but if it's all challenge then everyone is stressed and again performance suffers.