After teaching teams about coaching skills for many years, it still surprises me how challenging it is to build better coaching habits.The other day, I was in a conversation with someone in the lean community whom I deeply respect. He remarked to me, that asking effective questions is still the hardest thing for him to do, which really surprised me.
We both agreed that our knee jerk response to give people the answers is really hard to overcome.
We’d have to stop being the problem solvers for those around us.
We’ve become used to seeing our roles as leaders as the ones who fix things for people. Even harder, it can be difficult to draw the line between removing barriers for our teams and solving issues they need to solve for themselves.
Yet, it’s critical we figure out a way. Coaching isthe role of a leader in today’s organization.
We also both agreed that if we find it that difficult, consider the challenge for the hundreds of managers within our organizations! While the need for better coaching is clear, especially in a lean enterprise, we have yet to truly face what building these habits may require.
What’s changed for me over the last several years is realizing that leadership skills require building new habits, which is a slow and painstaking process. In addition, I find that most of us have little experience creating goals around creating habits. We’re used to creating SMART goals around things that pertain to specific work initiatives or key metrics.
Years ago, I was part of a leadership development class that became close with each other as part of our learning process. After we finished the formal class, we were encouraged to stay connected by email as a way to share our difficult conversations, including the victories and defeats. This experience helped me realize how important it was to find a place to be vulnerable with others about the challenges of leadership.
Since then, I’ve always tried to create a work environment that allows managers to look to each other for support and ideas for how to redirect their patterns of behavior. After all, the greatest way to accomplish any goal is to get enough help to achieve it.
Fundamentally, my leadership development experiences have included three ways to work on goals that support creating new habits: 1) curriculum for information; 2) community support for guidance and encouragement; and 3) reminders to keep new behaviors top of mind. Following are some examples of the kinds of actions that help build habits.
- Read or listen to one (or all) of the following books:
- The Coaching Habit by Michael Bungay Stanier
- Humble Inquiry by Edgar Schein
- Helping by Edgar Schein
- Community support. Some ways to develop community support are:
- Find a mentor to regularly discuss your progress
- Ask your team for support in building the coaching habit
- Reach out to a peer and discussion your progress
- Reminders to keep the habit building top of mind. Try using one or more of the following to remind you to develop your coaching habit:
- Put a reminder on your daily work journal to listen and ask open ended questions
- Put great open ended questions to ask on a laminated card in your planner
- Put reminders in your calendar to ensure you refrain from telling your people what to do
What are your struggles with developing a coaching habit? Comment below and share.