Leadership coach Liz Whitney shares her insights into what it means to be a good coach manager ahead of her full-day session at Shoreditch House.
Coaching is more than just an applied skill—it’s a way of approaching any given situation with the right mindset, and helping individuals make the most out of their own performance. But just what do we need to do to get ourselves into that mindset in the first place?
Leadership coach and consultant Liz Whitney will be joining us in Shoreditch House on the 31st of October for a full-day session to answer just that. Combining a mixture of moderated discussions as well as a chance to apply what you learn in groups, Liz will go through her methods for being a better coach and how to get yourself into that all important state of mind. After the day you’ll leave with plenty of tips and practical advice to test and learn directly in your own teams and businesses.
Ahead of the session, we asked Liz to give her four top tips to being a better coach, with advice we could apply straight away to our own workplace.
Liz's four tips to being a better coach manager
1. Be the one with the questions, not all the answers
Because we’re the leader, we should have all the answers. And when people come to us with problems, we should fix them for them. Right? Sometimes that’s true, especially when people are new to a role or have skills or expertise gaps. But a lot of the time we give people answers when they could have used their own ingenuity and come up with a solution themselves. By giving them the answer we rob them of their creativity and create a dependency on us for decision making. If you want to empower your team, stop giving them the answers and start asking them better questions instead.
Try saying: What ideas have you had about how to approach this?
2. Make time for coaching
We often give people the answers because it’s faster than them working it out for themselves. It’s a shortcut to getting things done. When we’re working under stressful, time pressured conditions we often default back to this ‘directive’ leadership style. Listening and discussing options is a luxury. A coaching approach takes more time and more mindfulness from you as a leader. You as the manager have to consciously make time for coaching conversations. Whether that’s your 1-2-1s or those ‘have you got 5 minutes’ requests, you need to prioritise these conversations over your own to-do list. That’s your real job now.
Try saying: What will do we need to cover off in this chat for it to help you move forward?
3. Ask for permission to coach
You can’t coach someone who doesn’t want to be coached. If you want to adopt a more coaching approach as a leader, let your team know you’re working on it and ask if they would like to support you on learning this new skill. Explain what they can expect from you and create some boundaries with them on how you’ll use it together. Coaching is a two-way relationship and shouldn’t be something done to someone without their consent. You’ll just get a bad response. Use your judgement on when it’s the right time to coach and if you’re not sure, ask your team what they need from you so you’re clear on right approach for that time.
Try saying: What support do you need from me so I know how best to help you?
4. Work on yourself (get a coach)
Coaching is an act of mindfulness and self-management as a leader. You have to consciously choose to do it, listen to people in a deeper way and be mindful of your own behaviours. That takes a level of self-awareness that most of us haven’t spent the time working on in our careers as we’re usually too busy getting to the next deadline. If you want to be a better coach manager, get coached yourself. Not only will you learn from them a few tools, techniques and questions, you’ll also walk away with more confidence in yourself as a leader, with clearer goals and actions to improve your leadership longer term.
Try saying: I’d like to use my training budget to get a coach to help me develop as a leader