What IS a Coaching Leader? And when do you coach people?

As pioneering experts leading the field in the Coaching Leadership space, we’re happy to see more and more people are joining our Coaching Culture Leadership Revolution! We see Coaching Leadership as THE future of leadership, and the more people that embrace it the better.

However, we feel there’s a lot of misunderstanding about what a Coaching Leader is and what that means.

For us, a Coaching Leader is someone who’s coaching his or her people 65-70% of the time. Their overall style is to have coaching conversations as the default style all day, every day, 65-70% of the time. And not just with staff, with everybody:  peers, managers, stakeholders…a 360° holistic approach.

Those regular (monthly/fortnightly, etc), 1-on-1 more ‘formal’ individual coaching sessions with staff also need to happen – but these are only a small part of being a Coaching Leader. They alone do not define a Coaching Leader.

Of course, you cannot coach people all the time. No one style suits anything all of the time. When the buildings on fire or the proverbial suddenly hits the fan and immediate action is needed, a telling (or other) style of leadership may well be more appropriate.

That said, even these situations often don’t preclude a quick coaching conversation.

The problem we see is no current coaching models we’re aware of lend themselves to an everyday, practical coaching leadership style. They’re either specifically designed for a protracted multi-session coaching type program, or they’re actually not intuitive at all and are hard to think of in any situation – let alone on the fly or under pressure when your brain is in a threat state and you’re not thinking clearly anyway!

The GROW model is probably the best known and most practiced coaching model, but we think it’s actually surprisingly difficult to apply in an on the fly or day-to-day conversation. Even the GROW-WISE model we’ve used in the past.

How do you apply GROW when someone comes up & asks you as the manager “what should I do here?”

Leader: “Ok G, Goal…what’s The Goal here?”

Staff member: “The Goal? Um, I dunno, what is The Goal…? ”…end of conversation.

Leader: “Ok, why don’t you go talk to Jim & Janet, get them to…”

That’s why we’ve come up with our own neuroscience-based, day-to-day Coaching Leadership model that’s practical, easy to remember and more importantly to apply. And it actually works! We call it ‘TOAD™ Coaching’. It works. We’re so confident it will do what we say we’ll give you your money back if it doesn’t.

“But Coaching takes up soooo much time; I’m far too busy already!”

There is a very common misconception that coaching takes time – too much time.

If you’re thinking of those 1-hour, more formal, individual coaching sessions, then yes, I would mostly agree, sometimes they can up time you may have been spending elsewhere. However, the fact they boost engagement, improve collaboration, innovation and job satisfaction, etc, etc, and actually save significant time in the long run is beside the point – and also the subject of another article!

Let’s put those 1-on-1 sessions aside, just for now, & focus on true Coaching [Conversations] Leadership: the on the job, on the fly, everyday coaching, 65-70% of your time.

This generally does not take more time. On the occasions, it does take more time, that is only in the early stages. All the feedback we’ve had is that it saves way more time overall.

A very senior executive heading up the Asia Pacific Japan Region of a global company, while just practicing our TOAD™ Coaching tool in one of our Coaching Culture Leadership training programs, summed it up: he looked at me and said:

“#8@t! I’ve just got more out of this 5-minute TOAD™ practice session than I got out of a 1-hour meeting with this bloke last week!” (his practice partner felt similarly, btw, no noses were put out of joint in the making of this program!).

Yes, it may feel that this day to day Coaching Leadership style takes time – but that’s usually because we ‘glorious leaders’ are not dishing out our usual plateful of Wonderful Solutions to our ‘solution hungry people’! So consequently, we often feel we’re not getting anywhere.

The fact our ‘hungry people’ might not like the brimming platefuls of Wonderful Solutions we serve up, and feel like we’re ramming our Wonderful Solutions cuisine down their throats and ignoring the food they really like (i.e. being heard, listened to, having a say, feeling valued, feeling like they’re a valued part of the solution, etc) is beside the point!

So, our Coaching Revolution is about getting leaders to be coaching 65-70% of the time…all day every day. That’s what we see as a Coaching Leadership Culture.

Are you going to join us and be a part of the future?

Of course, feel free to use whatever coaching tools you find useful to make that happen.

However, if you’re interested in our unique TOAD™ Coaching Leadership tool to add to, or be the primary tool in your toolkit, then give us a shout.

To have a no cost, no obligation conversation over a coffee (or a wine/beer!) and to pick Simon’s brains, and/or to get more information on our in-house Coaching Leadership/ Coaching Culture training and development programs, please contact the team at Southern Cross Coaching & Development on:

Tel:          +61 (0)2 7901 5618

Email:      [email protected]