By: Meredith Masse
During our Managing Through Chaos: Coaching Skills for Leaders webinar on April 2, 2020, ICC Executive and Leadership Coach Linda Rad shared with the leaders who attended the importance of implementing coaching techniques in our leadership styles, especially in this time of relentless distractions that could cause employee commitment and productivity to wane easily.
WHAT IS COACHING?
A consultant is paid because she has the experience and skills necessary to help an organization or person solve a specific problem. In short, she has all the right answers.
A coach, on the other hand, has all the right questions and asks them to support organizations, teams and individuals in uncovering what they may or may not already know about themselves in order to develop professionally. Being a leader who is adept at coaching means:
- Being present and listening on a deeper level.
- Asking powerful questions.
- Holding others accountable.
- Challenging others’ perspectives.
- Facilitating positive change.
- Developing others.
WHY COACH vs. JUST TELL?
In challenging times, Linda stressed that it’s more important now than ever for leaders to apply coaching techniques in order to support employees and companies with:
- Quicker problem-solving and higher levels of innovation.
- Better employee decision-making through empowerment.
- Increased listening skills leading to lower conflict.
- More healthy and meaningful relationships.
- Greater clarity around goals.
- Improved performance and results.
- Higher levels of employee engagement and productivity.
- Increased ability to navigating changes.
- Increased resilience and well-being.
WHAT IT TAKES: CRITICAL COACHING SKILLS
Of all the skills coaches need to have developed to be ultimately effective, Linda urges the most critical skill in coaching is a leader’s ability to listen. And not just feigning listening, but really practicing what’s called Level 2 listening. The three levels of listening, as described by the International Coaching Federation (ICF):
Level 1 Listening
Level 1 listening is an interaction where the primary focus of the listener is on their own thoughts, opinions, judgments and feelings. People relate the words they hear to their experiences or needs. This type of listening is entirely appropriate when we are facing a decision or when we must collect information. If we are buying a car, for example, we will be listening at Level 1 to the salesperson to see how the car features will fit our needs and budget.
Level 2 Listening
Level 2 listening takes the communication way ahead. The undivided attention of the listener is entirely on the speaker and on the conversation. This means not only hearing what is being said but also noticing how it is said. It involves paying attention to the tone of voice, body language and facial expressions. This type is the empathetic listening concept explained by Covey, including paraphrasing and reflecting on the words of the speaker. As a result, the listener can tune in to the meaning of the words, choose a way to respond, and assess the effect of the response on the speaker.
Level 3 Listening
Level 3 listening brings an entirely new state of awareness to the conversation. It involves doing everything at Level 2, plus using intuition and being open to receiving more information in any form that it presents itself. This means tuning in not only to the conversation but to the environment.
Asking Powerful Questions
The most gifted coaches also work to ask powerful questions that help individuals and teams dig deeply to find solutions to the challenges others are facing. Linda offered these three powerful questions as a springboard for coaching conversations:
- What’s important to you right now?
- Why is that important to you?
- What ideas do you have? Which do you commit to?
For more tips and help in developing the skills great coaches use to achieve results through others, watch the entire 60-minute webinar here. Practicing these and other coaching skills for just 10 minutes a day will make a significant impact on employees’ level of commitment and productivity especially as we all adjust to our new normal amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
What skill will you practice first? Please share in the comments below!