Coaching unlocks your business potential

Are you looking to generate new profits and opportunities for yourself and your business? Imagine what would be possible if everyone in your organization operated with an “owner’s mindset,” was enthusiastic and able to positively contribute to the bottom line. What if people were taking action on the “great unsaid” in your company; the sacred areas that are off limits to discussion because they might lead to uncomfortable conversations?

If you are ready for these things to be happening in your organization, then you are ready to take a coach approach to growing your business.

Let’s face it; the world is evolving, not just changing. The strategies and tactics that worked last year and even last month may not efficiently help your company become the market leader it could and should be. Long gone are the command-and-control leadership and communication styles of the past. Outstanding leaders know that growing and developing their employees is critical in order to stay competitive.

A paycheck and vacation time are not the only things people want from their careers; they want to be heard, challenged, appreciated and engaged. They want to be coached and not managed.

In order to respond to these business realities, leading edge organizations have adopted a coaching culture to increase trust, promote collaboration and improve performance. Successful leaders understand that in order to have more, they must become more and coaching creates that personal and professional competitive advantage.

Why coaching works: In a perfect world, high performing people and teams know what they want to accomplish, self correct along the way and objectively evaluate the results of their initiatives. We do not live in a perfect world. People need to feel challenged to step into new and unknown roles but often struggle to live up to their potential. This is where coaching comes to the rescue.

Coaching is about getting off the sidelines and into the championship leadership game. The external or internal coach can provide a framework and process for “players” to focus on the subtle changes that will yield the biggest results. Coaches are trained to educate business leaders on how to inspire their people to do the things they really want to do, but find difficult to do on their own. It is said in golf that we cannot see our own swing, so an outside perspective can be a game changer.

Powerful and effective leader coaches ask open-ended questions and help the coworker arrive at his own solution rather than tell the employee what to do. They listen intently for what the employee is saying and not saying and ask powerful questions to tease out the answer. Masterful coaching is an art and a science and originates from a commitment to excellence and high performance.

Essentially, coaching is about providing feedback and clarifying commitments so that the coachee takes powerful action. In a coaching culture, employees are trained to engage in constructive and positive dialogue instead of confrontational, one-sided monologues. Naturally, a coaching culture creates a safe space for colleagues to discuss concerns, brainstorm about options and solve problems, before they become crises.

Let’s be clear, coaching is not therapy, cajoling, endless “Atta Boys,” complaining without accountability and advice giving. Coaching is not for whiners or employees in trouble; on the contrary, coaching is designed to help high performers soar to new heights. The coach and coachee relationship is collaborative rather than antagonistic. High-performing teams use coaching reviews and feedback sessions to assess and document the lessons learned after a project is completed. My clients report that the “Plan-Do-Review” coaching model has reduced their product lead times because they have improved communication and problem solving between departments.

Day after day, employees are given directives on what to do (the outcome) such as increase profits, reduce costs, work more closely with other divisions and departments, but they may be stuck in old ways of how to do it. Coaching is successful because it is focused on reinventing how we work and allowing people to be creative and accountable about how to get better results.

As a leader, you must focus on achieving results by cultivating excellent relationships. A senior executive client of mine knew that her ability to connect with every member of her team was critical to the organization’s success. She wisely recognized that when she was approaching a project deadline she became dismissive and aloof, leaving her direct reports confused and upset. We worked together on a new strategy where she would try out new coaching behaviors and communicate more effectively with her team; especially when she was drawing near a deadline. This leader became more vulnerable and human to her employees by ’fessing up about her “worry gal” tendencies. Acting as a coach rather than a supervisor, she is now asking for feedback and interaction from her team during crunch times rather than staying locked away in her office. She reports that taking a coach approach to her business has made a positive impact on her personal and professional relationships.

If unlocking the tremendous potential of your employees and creating a high performance company are in your game plans, you can coach and grow your way to success.

• Kathleen Caldwell is president of Caldwell Consulting Group and founder of the WHEE Institute (Wealthy, Healthy, Energetic Edge) of Woodstock. She is an International Coach Federation credentialed coach and works with leaders and teams to energetically and enjoyably produce serious, meaningful results. She can be reached at www.caldwellconsulting.biz, Kathleen@caldwellconsulting.biz or by phone at 815-206-4014.