Bruce is the head of manufacturing for a large company. He feels overwhelmed by the number and complexity of his team’s people-challenges. As a leader, he feels responsible for fixing these problems but he also wants to empower his team.
When Bruce went through the initial training, he experienced nominal change. But when we made the change to a monthly leadership practicum, his abilities grew substantially.
What sparked the change?
Initially, Bruce attended two rounds of leadership skill-building one month apart. We realized this method was not sufficient. Much of the learning dissipated quickly and old habits returned.
Lesson learned . . . The solution must match the problem.
The company was too large and the need was too great for two rounds of training to be effective. Instead, we switched to a monthly practicum approach. We learned that people like Bruce often don’t do things they should because their own thoughts or feelings create resistance.
This is not an indication of poor performance, but simply the need for more resources and awareness. Developing coaching leadership skills is difficult. Not just a little hard, but really hard! The urge to solve problems is overpowering for leaders who often feel a need to control the outcome. They must learn to ask questions that foster leadership skills rather than leading questions.
Rather than a quick fix, Bruce and the other leaders needed regular reinforcement of the newly learned skills. Leaders also benefited from sharing similar struggles as they worked to develop a coaching style of leadership.
Practice makes perfect
The monthly practicums consist of leaders meeting to discuss any challenges with their team members. The interactive meetings provided leaders with the opportunity to be sounding boards for one another. Rather than tell their fellow leaders what to do, they simply asked questions and gave feedback (not advice) based on observations.
Through this method, leaders developed a coaching leadership style that in turn empowered their team members. The monthly sessions created a sense of community among leaders and provided them with consistent opportunities to practice coaching.
As leaders became more proficient in coaching, they implemented the approach with their team. They understood the effectiveness of listening, asking questions, and providing feedback to their team members to foster self-reliance. When their team members began to solve problems independently, they knew that it was working.
Setting the pace for leadership
So what about Bruce? Did his skills improve with the monthly practicum approach?
Yes! The monthly sessions transformed Bruce’s leadership style. The more he practiced the coaching style of leadership, the more his relationship with his team members improved. He built genuine relationships with his team and in turn, they responded differently to him as a leader.
His relationship with his team isn’t the only thing that improved. Bruce’s in-depth feedback also led to improved skills and team satisfaction. He looks forward to the monthly meeting and spending time with his team members. Bruce set the tone for how people lead and is more confident in his leadership skills.
Recently I spoke with the head of the manufacturing plant where Bruce works. He reported an overall increase in morale. He notices people making more direct eye contact and stronger relationships between leaders and team members. Most importantly, people feel respected and successful.
Let me show you how this approach can help your leaders build a coaching style of leadership. Reach out to me here, I’d love to help.