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5 ways to coach in your job

Dr. Christi Hegstad is a certified executive and leadership coach, president of MAP Professional Development Inc., and leader of the ASPIRE Success Club.

Surely you've heard the ancient lesson: Give someone a fish and she'll eat for a day, but teach her to fish and she'll feed herself for life. Do you agree? How have you incorporated this philosophy into your leadership practices?   

Coaching leadership books Rock StanierMost of us, I'm guessing, believe that helping people to help themselves is the aim of a strong leader. We want our team able to make decisions, solve problems, and be innovative.

But most of us are also probably time-crunched, finding it easier and faster to tell someone what to do rather than draw out their expertise.

As a certified executive and leadership coach, I "teach people to fish" on a daily basis; the nature of coaching invites the space for this to occur. But even if you are not a professional coach, bringing a coach approach to your leadership can transform your team in profound ways. I've partnered with countless leaders over the years to develop their coaching qualities, resulting in more time, stronger engagement, and greater leadership within their teams. You can start with these five strategies:

1. Be quiet.

How comfortable are you with silence? If you're like most in conversation, you probably find silence awkward and jump in to fill it. So do most other people! And in their talking, they're more likely to generate solutions and tap into their own inner wisdom - or at least give you insight into their perspective.

2. Be other-focused.

As a leader, you have valuable experience to share. But the goal in coaching, and in true leadership, is not to showcase your knowledge but to develop the knowledge of others. Ask questions, invite exploration of thought, and draw out their expertise before interjecting your own.

3. Be present.

I can't tell you the number of clients I've coached, both male and female, who find themselves in tears during our first meetings. When I ask about it, nine times out of ten they tell me it's the first time they've felt truly heard in ages. Remove distractions, clear your mind, maintain eye contact, and listen to understand.

4. Be curious.

Remember, everyone has a story - and everyone has something going on that we know nothing about. Keep your assumptions in check. Instead of thinking you know best, ask a few questions first.

5. Believe.

When it comes down to it, coaching relies on one important expectation: You believe the person you're coaching is capable, resourceful, and has potential. Come to your leadership conversations with a true growth perspective and you'll experience far greater outcomes. As you've probably already discovered, people generally rise to our expectations of them.

Christi Hegstad MAP Inc HeadshotCOACH CHRISTI'S CHALLENGE:

For the next week, whenever an employee (or friend or child) asks you a question, pause before responding. See if you might ask a question or two before sharing your advice or suggestion.

For example, if asked "What should I do?" (assuming a non-emergency situation), you could respond with, "What have you thought of so far?" or "I have a few ideas, but can you share yours first?"

This might take less than a minute but allows the person the opportunity to think differently and reminds him that he has wisdom within too. 

Remember: The true measure of a leader isn't how many followers you have, it's how many leaders you've developed around you. Bringing a coach approach can promote leadership in profound and sustainable ways - not to mention free you up for strategy, visioning, and the roles in which you thrive. For additional ideas on bringing coaching into your leadership, check out books like Quiet Leadership by David Rock and The Coaching Habit by Michael Bungay Stanier, too.

How has a coaching approach impacted your leadership, teams, or those around you? Share your thoughts below.

Dr. Christi Hegstad is a certified and award-winning executive and leadership coach who helps people work, live, and lead with meaning and purpose. Learn more at www.meaning-and-purpose.com, Facebook at www.facebook.com/MAPIncFan and Twitter at www.twitter.com/DrChristiCoach.


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