Limitless Leadership: Lead, Empower & Leverage Time
I’d like to delve into a topic I am extremely passionate about – delegating thinking to others! I believe if you’re able to find the right balance between the three C’s, Capability, Confidence and Capacity, you are setting yourself up for the best chance to successfully lead yourself and others. So many leaders put off coaching or think they are coaching when they are, in fact, “telling”. My question to them is: “If not now, when?”
Recently I was running a “Leader as Coach” program for senior leaders to equip them with deeper coaching skills and insights to implement within their organisations. One of the participants asked for my definition of coaching, to which I responded, “it’s like delegating thinking”. Until this point, after more than 20 years’ exposure to coaching, both as a coach and being coached, I had never really looked at it like this. It made total sense, however, as the words left my mouth – empowering others to think for themselves and come up with their own solutions is simply delegating thinking.
So how do we do this, you may ask? The first step is to begin with asking and not telling, or in other words, coach, and make coaching as simple as an everyday conversation.
Recent International Coaching Federation studies have found that organisations that have a solid coaching program in place can enjoy:
- 70% improvement on overall work performance
- 51% increase in team effectiveness
- 80% increase in self confidence
- 73% had improved relationships at work
- 72% had improvement in their communication skills
- 67% had improved work / life balance
In my early twenties, when working in a large global corporate, I was coached – not that I was as aware of it back then. As I moved into more senior roles I was taught the art of coaching, and over the years I grew this muscle exponentially and mastered it, as I became a professional coach. To this day I have a coach and mentor myself – how could I not – and I coach and mentor hundreds of executives and leaders every year, as well as training leaders to coach their teams at a higher level. With all the exposure I have had working with many leaders, the most successful ones come to be seen as a coaching resource. Interestingly, the more you coach, the more people will back pedal away from asking you for solutions – they know you will only encourage them to come up with the answer themselves.
When leading a team or organisation, I see the leader as the conductor of an orchestra. They guide and ensure the instruments hit their notes and harmonise. To be truly leading, you need to be the conductor – because if you’re playing an instrument, who is guiding the orchestra?
What I have learnt, without giving you a lesson on how to coach, are these five key insights that you can instil right now to empower others to think for themselves:
Let go of needing to ‘add value’
By letting go of being the all-knowing leader, you instil empowerment in others to think for themselves, grow their skill set and guess what – develop futures leaders!
Think about what you are controlling or holding onto that you can delegate to someone else. We tend to hold on to the things we like without even realising they could be delegated. Maybe at the next meeting you could get someone else to organise and chair?
Create the space for others to be empowered
I don’t believe you can empower others directly. What I do believe is that you can create the space for people to feel empowered and create ownership themselves. Whatever you do, make sure people have the space and choice to decide how they achieve tasks. Give them the “what” but not the “how” and stand back and let them go! Check in where and when needed but ask them what that would look like.
Ask, Don’t Tell
How easy is it to provide the answer when individuals approach you? Take a step back and ask them what solutions they have thought of first. Many will say “they don’t know”, but don’t buy into this as people are wired to respond to you the way they always have. They usually aren’t stuck, but instead are being lazy as they are used to you thinking for them at certain times. Be strong on this and ask them to go away and think about some possible solutions and then take it from there. This is called “coaching on the fly” and is simply an informal conversation that can happen face to face, over the phone and even by email. A great way to start building your coaching muscle.
Maximise Team Strengths
Mary isn’t great at reporting however Dean is strong in this area. How about asking Dean to do the reporting and enlist Mary to assist him? This is a great way for peers to learn from each other and accomplish without coming to you. I am a huge believer in building a strength-based team by identifying and then leveraging strengths and the things that energise each other. A bit like instruments in an orchestra, it takes all types to play a harmonised tune.
People won’t buy in or change if there is nothing in it for them. Communication is all about the responses you receive. You need to build rapport as rapport equates to influence. Of all the work I’ve done on this topic over the last 12 years on understanding others and building rapport, I believe that you need to have conversations that count, that are clear and are with intent. Be a bit like the other person; if he or she loves detail, then be more detailed in your conversation. If they are big-picture, then ensure you match this. Don’t change who you are but amplify your energy and approach by 20% to match and fast track rapport. Having a cut-through conversation encourages the other person to be more open and honest which builds trust and respect. This will assist the other person to understand why they need to do what they do, and in turn creates ownership and accountability.
I’d love to hear how you create space for others to think for themselves and what the payoff is for you, them and the organisation!
To find out more about our Leader As Coach program, contact me today.
Renée is an accomplished author, speaker, trainer, coach and mentor who works with high performing leaders and their teams across a myriad of industries and organisations. She passionately helps leaders and their teams fulfil their potential resulting in increased motivation and performance. Her expertise in growing and developing capability and behavioural change around leadership, communication, transition, presenting and sales effectiveness leave her clients inspired, re-energised and with improved results. Renée has published her first book “Limitless Leadership – a guide to reading from the inside out”, available now on Amazon Australia.
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