I am so frequently asked a version of the question, “How can I coach as a boss?” that I will be holding a workshop this summer (Coaching When You’re the Boss) to help equip all you managers out there to do just that.
The short answer is, yes. The much more important answer is, yes if you are both very intentional and capable.
Today, as a starting point, I want to provide you with the first two steps to help you if you aspire to be a manager who can effectively take a coaching stance with your direct report(s).
Step 1: Define what “coaching” means.
“Coaching” is a term that gets thrown around a lot. I hear people use this in a variety of circumstances when the phrase “training” or “consulting” is more appropriate. There is no one definition for coaching, so the most important thing for you to do is to clearly define what the term means in your context, and to share that definition.
A definition I use is, “Coaching is professional development. Its purpose is to help someone improve their practice.”
I then articulate the difference between different types of supports by honing in on the primary source of knowledge. In a coaching conversation, the coachee is the primary source. In training or evaluation, the trainer or evaluator is the source working from an established approach or standards. In consulting, the consultant is the source pulling from their expertise.
Step 2: Determine when it’s appropriate to take a coaching stance.
Once you’re clear on what coaching means in your context, you are ready to evaluate the many hats you wear and responsibilities you hold in relation to your direct reports. For each one consider the different support functions you can draw from (coaching, mentoring, training, evaluating, collaborating, consulting, etc.) and consider which is the best match.
These are the first two steps you need to set yourself up for success. If you’re interested in learning the rest — and growing the capacity to do so skillfully — consider joining me on July 27th as I guide you through what you need to know to utilize a coaching stance in your leadership practice.