Coaching strategies can
help you coach yourself
The old top-down, command-and-control style of leadership seldom works in today’s organizations, where the goal is often to promote cooperation in the midst of rapid change.
To succeed as a leader you must know how to communicate a vision, build a network of relationships, and foster group learning and decision-making. This is true whether you’re the big boss or are just learning how to guide a team.
Leadership coaching has become a key tool for facilitating change in individuals, teams and systems. And in places where the traditional hierarchical model of management no longer works, leaders who know how to act like coaches are building cultures that allow collaboration and innovation to thrive.
Working with a coach is one way to broaden your leadership skills and deepen your understanding of modern workplace dynamics. But even if that’s not an option, these strategies from the field of coaching can help you grow:
- Know yourself. Research shows that self-awareness is a vital characteristic of successful leaders. The more you understand about your own internal dialogue, the better you are at engaging with other people. And the more you notice about the impact of your behavior on others, the better are your choices for next steps. Coaches use open-ended questions to help clients notice their inner voices and daily decisions. Another way to promote self-exploration is to keep a journal or regularly engage in some other form of expressive writing. Write answers to questions like, “what would I do here if I knew I couldn’t fail?”
- Listen more actively. When people turn to you for guidance or assistance, there are many times when you have no idea how to help. But offering expertise is not the only way to give support. Humans have an innate need to be heard and acknowledged. And by listening deeply to another person, you can let them know they do matter and at the same time provide a way for them to come to terms with some of their issues.
- Try peer coaching. Consider finding a partner or small group with whom you can trade coaching time. Create a structure in which each person has a designated to time to talk about current activities and challenges. When you play the role of the “coach” it’s your job to ask questions and listen compassionately to the answers. Then when you are the “client” you can talk about what’s been happening lately and how you feel about it.
- Try some training. An enjoyable and effective way to become more adept at conversations with your colleagues can be to take an introductory coaching course. You’ll build your “listening muscle” and have opportunities to practice asking questions that lead others to new insights. For a training option that would work for you, visit the International Coach Federation website.