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Building a Coaching Mindset for Leaders

What constitutes a good leader in an interconnected world, where teams work together across oceans, and collaborate through different timezones and cultures? The modern leader needs to inspire growth, learning, a positive outlook on life and a willingness to tackle challenges and find solutions. The best way to empower people to be at their best, is to coach them.

Enabling learning in others through coaching

At its core, coaching is a form of personal development based on the belief that every person has the capacity to reach their full potential. Coaching is to the leader what the magic fertiliser is to the gardener: that little bit of extra help that makes all the difference, bringing about an abundance of growth, beauty and smiles.

The European Mentoring and Coaching Council defines coaching as “activities within the area of professional and personal development…to help clients…see and test alternative ways for improvement of competence, decision making and enhancement of quality of life…with the purpose of serving the clients to improve their performance or enhance their personal development or both”.

As a leader coaching is your gateway to enabling learning in others. At its best, coaching doesn’t even require you to have any answers. Coaching works on the belief that the person you coach already has all the answers within them. Your role as the coach is to help them uncover these answers.

Building your self-efficacy in coaching your team

When you start to coach others you will feel clumsy, maybe a bit like an imposter, and not really confident in yourself. It’s a different kind of language and a different kind of questions to ask. Building your coaching self-efficacy is essential for the leader as coach.

The GROW model for coaching as a leader

A simple yet very effective coaching framework is the GROW model. This evidence-based tool follows a four-step process that can help leaders in their coaching conversations with their team members. Coaching leaders apply a coaching style to most of their interactions with their employees: from problem-solving, to personal development conversations, team meetings and annual reviews, framing all these conversations with a coaching mindset inspires learning in others, intrinsic motivation and a growth mindset across your teams.

Setting a GOAL. Start with setting an objective for the session. Focus on letting your team member express their goal. When you use the GROW model in annual review it makes sense to let your employee set a long-term goal for their career development. Refrain from suggesting in this stage. Focus on asking questions to help elicit a goal from your team member.

Checking in with current REALITY. Invite your team member to self-assess their current situation. What goes well? What isn’t going well? How would others rate their performance? How would their peers describe their strengths? Your role as the leader as a coach in this phase is to ask questions that help to test their beliefs and assumptions that they might be making.

Discover all OPTIONS. In corporate settings we often need to make decisions quickly, without having the time to assess all available options. Coaching offers a valuable space to deliberately take time to discover all options. What other options are available? What could you do that you haven’t thought about yet? Invite different perspectives. When you both feel you have discovered all available options, encourage your team member to make a choice. What is the best option to proceed?

Promote their WILL to action. In the final phase of your coaching conversation encourage a commitment to take action. Ensure that the action follows SMART goal setting (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic & rewarding and timebound). Identify potential obstacles and what kind of support the employee might need (e.g. resources, people, skills, learning, coaching).

Close your coaching conversation as a leader by asking your team member how they feel. More often than not you will see excitement and a readiness to take action.

The coaches at Positive Psychology Coaches of Ireland are here to support you and your leadership team to practice a coaching mindset in a safe and non-judgmental space. Book a chat with us to explore how we can support you with 1:1 leadership coaching or leadership team coaching.

About the author

Claudia Geratz is a Positive Psychologist and Coach specialised in leadership coaching and training for people and teams in tech. With her experience of working in tech for 20 years together with her strong academic background in Positive Psychology she brings a deep understanding for the challenges and opportunities of designing flourishing workplaces for the tech industry.

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