Business Bites: Coaching for productive, healthy teams Part 2

Nick Walsh FBDO
ABDO head of corporate development

Are you a manager, a leader or a coach?

In their article, ‘The leader as a coach‘ (Harvard Business Review, December 2019) Ibarra and Scoular write: “Rapid, constant, and disruptive change is now the norm, and what succeeded in the past is no longer a guide to what will succeed in the future. Twenty-first-century managers simply don’t (and can’t) have all the right answers.

“To cope with this new reality, companies are moving away from traditional command-and-control practices and toward something very different: a model in which managers give support and guidance rather than instructions, and employees learn how to adapt to constantly changing environments in ways that unleash fresh energy, innovation, and commitment.”

The role of the manager is, in short, becoming that of a coach.

Key skills to master

As a leader/manager, you should master some key skills. Extracted from the Forbes Coaches Council article, ‘10 coaching skills every leader should master‘ (12 May 2016), these are summarised below:

1. Empathy is about connecting with others without judgment or personal agenda. By growing this skill, leaders can make difficult or even unpopular decisions that their teams will support because they are trusted for their ability to lead to greater destinations for the common good.
2.. Curiosity is the difference between knowing and discovering. Curiosity keeps judgment at bay and encourages consideration and inclusion.
3. A great leader and coach will help their people find their light and brighten it. The conventional way of leading, which tells us we must find and fix our weaknesses, is outdated and disengaging. Today’s leaders must embrace and capitalise on the uniqueness and strengths of each of their team members.
4. Great leaders are not directing but partnering for success. Leading is about creating an environment where individuals are heard, experience is valued and validated, and difficult decisions by the leader are then embraced by the team.
5. Too often, leaders approach interactions from a problem-solving mindset. Asking open-ended questions can create openings for new action because they literally take people out of the problem.
6. Involved detachment – being fully engaged emotionally while remaining completely non-judgmental and objective – is the most powerful coaching skill any leader can master.
7. True leaders will create transformation and set visions for others to reach for and achieve greater for themselves, not just the business.
8. Developing a process for any task or service makes it measurable and replicable. From there, you can refine and polish your methodology to make it more efficient and relevant.
9. The ability to coach means the ability to know, apply and teach effectively. It also means taking ownership of the results for yourself and others.
10. Listening is only half of the communication equation. How you listen, what you say, how you say it, and when you say it impacts whether your message hits its target and whether you get the results you seek.

The GROW Model

The GROW Model was used as the starting point for the development of the Achieve Coaching Model. It was developed by Graham Alexander and racing champion Sir John Whitmore and is probably the best-known coaching model in the UK and the one that is most widely used.

The GROW acronym stands for Goal, Reality, Opportunity, Will/Wrap up/What next? It provides a simple yet powerful framework of four main stages for a coaching session.

During the first stage of a session, coach and coachee agree on specific outcomes and objectives. During the second stage, the coach works with the coachee to explore the reality of their current situation by using a range of techniques. In the third stage, options for action are chosen to move the coachee closer to their goal; and in the final stage, the coachee commits to action.

Incorporating GROW into leadership and managerial practices can help establish a systematic approach to make internal coaching practices more efficient and achieve greater return on coaching investment. By arming oneself with some proven techniques and becoming a better coach, it can enhance team performance.

The ACHIEVE Coaching Model

The ACHIEVE Coaching Model was developed by the Coaching Centre. It is an adaptive, yet systematic coaching process. It was found that experienced executive coaches go beyond the confines of the GROW model to achieve measurable and sustainable results with their clients.

The seven stages of the ACHIEVE Coaching Model are:
1. Assess current situation
2. Creative brainstorming
3. Hone goals
4. Initiate option generation
5. Evaluate options
6. Valid action programme design
7. Encourage momentum

In stage one, it is important to obtain an overview of the current circumstances before focusing on the chosen area. The most critical coaching skills at this stage are:
• Rapport building
• The use of open-ended questions
• Active listening.

Stage two increases the range of choices and creates a sound foundation for the development of creative solutions and behavioural change.

Stage three is to refine the established alternatives into specific goals and is where SMART goals are created and/or refined.

In Stage four, the aim is to develop a range of ways of achieving the desired goals. The purpose is not to find the ‘right’ option but to develop a range of options for achieving the goals.

Having generated a range of options, stage five is to evaluate these options and prioritise them for the action plan.

In stage six, an action plan is designed with the goals broken down into achievable chunks.

Stage seven is about encouraging momentum and helping individuals stay on track and should be an ongoing process.

Read ‘Coaching for productive, healthy teams Part 1’ here.