If you think about the exceptional bosses you have had, they likely had something in common – they were good coaches. They were probably also good advisors, sharing their experiences and knowledge so that you could apply these to your own challenges. But a coach is something totally different.
I have come to really appreciate this while enrolled in a 10 month coach training program at the University of Miami. Taught by several Master Certified Coaches, one quickly understands that coaching does not involve “telling”, but rather “asking”. Accepting that everyone has the solutions and capabilities to resolve any challenge, a coach partners with the coachee on an exploratory journey.
It’s a total mind-shift from what most bosses do, which is to advise or counsel. As a coach that’s not the approach; you can’t offer advice as these are usually based on personal biases and past experiences, which could interfere in the coaching process. The focus is entirely on where the coachee is and wants to go, and the coach is there to help make that happen, on the coachee’s terms and way of being.
Nearly all the bosses I’ve had (18 since college) were really advisors. Only a few were also coaches. They were the ones who didn’t tell me what to do or how to do it, but challenged me to think through what would happen if I took different courses of action. They were the bosses who would let me figure-out how to accomplish my goals. These bosses brought-out capabilities in me that I didn’t know I had. They placed the responsibility for making the right decisions on my shoulders, and were willing to let me fail.
That’s how we learn best, when failure is a real possibility, and these experiences are the ones that give us true employee satisfaction.
The next several Bossdepot blogs will be devoted to coaching. I will share the key lessons from the UM program in the hopes that it can make you a better boss.