For us leaders, mentoring people below us sounds fancy and attractive and it has some value, but I want to talk about coaching today.
Perhaps my passion for coaching came from reading Customer Mania! by Blanchard. Great book and in it he points out how Yum! started to build success through being customer focused. Part of that required more coaching. They went to such great lengths in this that they renamed their leaders coaches. Titles like manager and supervisor disappeared in favor of Coach Johnson or what not. Their success in that showed and still shows me just how important a tool it is.
Coaching indicates a belief in the power of self discovery. It also shows trust in the ability of people to solve their own problems. A book that got me going on this is Coaching Questions by Stoltzfus.
As you may know, I have found that superior leadership is the key to success in China. So, naturally, I took on coaching despite my natural tilt toward lecturing which I have to fight.
I have seen remarkable results from this. I had a middle manager who was new to the company and when asked admitted his biggest problem was feeling too distant from his direct reports. I so wanted to teach him, but I managed to ask him what his specific goal would be and what steps he might take to solve the problem. Within 45 minutes, he had developed his own plan to meet with his reports and develop the right working relationship.
When done, I looked with sadness on my common weakness of talking too much. Answers have so often been with my direct reports, and I failed to draw them out. Too sad, but we always have a new day to do better. If you have never learned coaching, then I request you read any book by Stoltzfus. If you already know coaching like me, then I encourage you to put it to use more just like I feel motivated to do it more at my business these days.
It really is a great tool, and we should not ignore it, but rather put it to use passionately.
Thoughts to add?