Being a competent manager or an inspiring leader. Which one would you be more interested in? Although the answer for this question strongly varies from one manager to another, a big portion of managers that I have met would prefer becoming -or at least prefer being considered- a strong leader at the office.
Whether you’re a manager trying to manage daily project tasks, assign resources and observe the whole team performance throughout the project lifecycle or trying to develop yourself towards building a reputational career in business management. You will need to know that one of the key ways you can actually have a positive and effective impact on the business is by starting asking questions vs telling someone the solution. This requires a manager to operate more like a Coach than a Manager.
Organizations with senior leaders who coach other team members effectively are the ones in which the ending year numbers would most likely reflect a potential growth upcoming year.
The operation gets extremely affected by the attitude of senior leaders in the organization. If senior managers act as coaches throughout the organization, it will also cause C-level executives to actually take bold actions & risks without hesitating too much. This event occurs due to the organization’s senior leaders using their knowledge and skills as leverage and coaching non-senior employees throughout tough times such as unstable economics, raising debt and even declining employee happiness.
Despite the extremely useful impacts of Coaching, many people are unsure about the difference between a coaching approach and manager approach, so here are the outlines of some key descriptors:
- Coaches prefer an Ask approach vs. Tell: Managers who tend to ask powerful questions to employees are most likely to increase their team performance and be considered as coaches in the organization. Asking questions allows an employee to come up with their own solutions rather than following a plan which was assigned by the manager
- Employee focused vs. task-focused mindset: According to Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs”, the highest levels of the pyramid are achieved by employees who obtain self-actualization and esteem needs. For this reason, coaches usually adopt an empowering & influencing approach towards employees in which increases the likelihood of creating a high performing team
- They don’t attempt to “fix” anyone: Coaching means effective conversations. Managers focus on solutions by telling an employee the solution. Successful coaches act as facilitators by asking questions so the employee can come up with her own solution.
Focus on effective conversations
This technique can also be applied to out of office, normal day conversations that we usually with our family or friends.
It’s not a surprise that having a dialogue(asking) rather than a monologue(telling) will definitely make a conversation more effective.
Characteristics of questions that will make your conversation more effective are:
– Focused on useful outcomes
– Non-judgmental (avoiding asking “why?”)
Here are some examples of open-ended questions compared to their close-ended version:
- What is the status of “A”?
- How can I help you?
- Can you tell me about that error?
- Walk me through your thought process?
- What other approaches might you take next time?
- How are your emotions influencing your perception of the situation?
- Are you finished with “A” yet?
- Do you have a problem?
- Did you make that mistake?
- Will this really solve the problem?
- What made you think that was a good idea?
- That’s clear enough, isn’t it?
- Didn’t I go over this already?
- Why didn’t you do “x”?
Operating in a Coach mindset vs a manager is quite easy to understand but needs some practice to master. It’s a critical skill for long-term success and a highly rewarding challenge that will help improve your emotional intelligence & critical reasoning skills.