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According to a CCL poll, leader coaches face 2 common challenges in their work. First: how to distinguish the coaching role from the managerial role; and second: how to cultivate a trusting, open relationship with the coachee.

Today, we’ll look at some tips for addressing both of these important issues. First of all, leader coaches must learn when to be coaches and when to be managers. And though some overlap is inevitable, blurring those lines is often stressful for the coach and confusing for the coachee. But how do you separate the 2 roles?

Try setting boundaries or providing cues that distinguish between your coaching and managerial roles, so your coachee is clear when you are making a shift. For example  — you and your direct report might decide that as a coach, you will focus on long-term goals, such as development. Make it clear you recognize that development involves learning and taking risks; tell the coachee that you won’t expect success right away. That frees you up as a manager to tackle issues of immediate action and performance, focusing on the coachee’s core job responsibilities.

The second common challenge that leader-coaches face is fostering trust. One great way to establish trust is to listen. Great listeners don’t necessarily make great coaches, but great coaches must be great listeners — active listeners. Active listening, unlike passive hearing, can be a powerful communication tool, because it helps the coach really grasp what the coachee is trying to tell them.

Next time you’re conferencing with your coachees, try to do these simple things:

  1. Set a comfortable tone and maintain eye contact.
  2. Give plenty of time for them to think and respond.
  3. Encourage them to express feelings — without you agreeing or disagreeing.
  4. A fourth way to practice listening is to ask clarifying and exploratory questions.
  5. Periodically restate what the coachee is telling you.
  6. Summarize out loud what you’ve taken from the conversation.

With some practice, your listening skills will help you be seen as a terrific, trustworthy coach — without sacrificing your equally important role as a manager.

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