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Don't Tell Me What To Do!

When I was younger, I had a job training teenagers to be camp counselors. One week, there was a teen that just wasn’t going to listen to me at all. I would say go left; he would go right. I would ask him to do dishes, and he would wander off. It wasn’t working out well.

Truth be known, few of us enjoy being told. People respond most favorably to tasks when they are delivered in the form of directions that are consistent with our personal interests, goals and capabilities.

Ultimately, a manager’s effectiveness is dependent on his/her ability to bridge the gap between strategy and execution – strategy, no matter how brilliant, cannot be achieved without proper execution by committed people. You can be the smartest person in the room, but if no one is following you, you’re just out for a walk. Organizational growth becomes possible when individual employees and teams of employees willingly commit their talents, creativity, and energy to achieve desired results.

Coaching is about facilitating people to commit with enthusiasm to accomplish their individual objectives. The leader’s challenge is to link individual objectives to corporate goals. Leaders often need to deliver expectations, directions, and feedback – if a leader truly wants to motivate desired behavior, learning to coach rather than tell is a much-needed skill.

Coaching helps people utilize their strengths to work through issues and challenges and arrive at their own decisions and plans. Coaching embraces individual uniqueness and focuses on what people can do instead of where they fall short.

Good Coaches need to be good listeners and should have genuine interest in their team members. They resist the urge to jump in and “solve” the employee’s problems, or too quickly share their own opinion: “Here’s what I would do”.

Want to be a great Leader/Coach? Here are some coaching suggestions:

· Be present – engage the employee “in the moment.”

· Maintain steady eye contact.

· Don’t interrupt!

· Withhold evaluative or critiquing comments.

· Avoid using such words as “no”, “but”, “never”, and “however.”

· Ask open-ended questions that encourage the other person to talk.

· Be supportive and respectful.

· Ensure there is understanding and closure on the coaching topic.

· Encourage the employee to act in their areas of strengths.

Encouragement engenders trust and is a powerful coaching skill. Real encouragement must be specific to the issue on which the person is working. Statements like “you can do this” and “I have faith in you” can go a long way to gain the employees engagement, commitment and trust.

Are you a Teller or a Coach?


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