Moving from Boss to Coach

When organisations and their partners participate in coaching training together, the culture spreads like a social epidemic.  In the aftermath of the global financial crisis, a new paradigm is emerging: Leader as coach. 

It is boom time for coaching right now, evident in increasing numbers of people seeking out self help, leadership, performance, business and wellness coaching.  People are seeking a more humane approach to the reality of the corporate world and to leadership more generally.  They are seeking a corporate culture centred firmly on ethics and the common good and less on self interest for its own sake.  Like all paradigms shifts, the changes sought are rarely noticeable to those still operating in the old way and barely perceptible to those who know they are seeking something different in themselves as leaders and in their corporate world. 

The coaching approach to leadership aims to equip professionals with knowledge about human relationships and communication skills that enable them and their team to be more effective in both their work and life.  Leaders who are coaches work from the inside out focussing on self awareness, best practise in communication, and promoting behaviours that improve motivation and harness the skills and resources of others to achieve workplace objectives.  A leader who coaches demonstrates the following skills: 

  • Develops rapport early establishing maturity and trust in relationships through purposeful communication
  • Understands how unconscious material and neuroscience shapes interactions
  • Has the capacity to identify and tap into different learning styles
  • Actively provides and seeks feedback and encourages others to do the same
  • Understands the situational importance of active listening, paraphrasing, reframing, challenging
  • As a result, provides optimal learning environments for productivity
  • Maximizes strengths based approaches to professional development and problem solving: uses “we” a lot
  • Supports goal setting, performance development in an environment of interpersonal safety
  • Utilizes techniques for improving self awareness such as mindfulness, journaling
  • Promotes peer based learning, independence and self reliance in employees
  • Actively strives for ethical responses to issues

The organisational impact of leaders broadening their mindset from being the boss to being a coach is that they have learned how emotional and affective states can effect employee morale and productivity both positively or negatively.  Applying this knowledge, they boost productivity, motivation and morale in their employees.  Contrast this approach to the organisational impact of the boss who ignores the emotional needs of others, directs rather than actively engages staff, penalizes poor performance rather than creating a learning organisation.  By creating a work environment based on emotional safety, trust and cooperation rather than self interest and position power, the leader as coach will inevitably encourage employees to give their best and develop the skills to become great leaders themselves.

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