5 Reasons why Coaching is the Way to Go in Team Management
Millennials and GenZ are asking for it. They value coaching because they see it as a perfect instrument for self-reflection and personal growth. But also to perform better as a team. Other/older generations might be more reluctant. Unfounded and too bad. Because everyone benefits from coaching.
When you hear the word 'coach', what comes first into your mind? Do you picture a basketball team with a man/woman shouting out directions? Or perhaps a football team with a man/woman pacing to and from and calling out the names of the players?
Coaching is no longer reserved to sports teams; it has become one of the key concepts in leadership and management. Why is coaching popular?
1 | Coaching levels the playing field
Coaching is one of the six emotional leadership styles proposed by Daniel Goleman. Moreover, it is a behaviour or role that leaders enforce in the context of situational leadership. As a leadership style, coaching is used when the members of a group or team are competent and motivated, but do not have an idea of the long-term goals of an organisation. This involves two levels of coaching: team and individual. Team coaching makes members work together. In a group of individuals, not everyone may have nor share the same level of competence, same commitment to a goal and/or congruent beliefs and interests. These differences can (and will) cause friction among the members. The coaching leader helps the members level their expectations. Also, the coaching leader manages differing perspectives so that the common goal succeeds over personal goals and interests. In a big organisation, leaders need to align the personal values and goals with that of the organisation so that long-term directions can be pursued.
2 | Coaching builds up confidence and competence
Individual coaching is an example of situational leadership at work. It aims to mentor one-on-one building up the confidence of members by affirming good performance during regular feedbacks; and increase competence by helping the member assess his/her strengths and weaknesses towards career planning and professional development. Not minding the individual's level of competence or experience, a leader of a cross generational team should exercise coaching behaviour for every member to align expectations and bridge differences. Don't make the error of judgement that for example, the experienced members can do without coaching. They might be convinced of that themselves, but that doesn't make it a fact. Coaching is not to be focussed on experience, knowledge or work-ethic, it should be focussed on commitment, needs and interests.
3 | Coaching promotes individual and team excellence
Excellence is a product of habitual good practice. The regularity of meetings and constructive feedback is important in establishing habits. Members catch the habit of constantly assessing themselves for their strengths and areas for improvement that they themselves perceive what knowledge, skills, and attitudes they need to acquire to attain team goals. In the process, they attain individually excellence as well. An example is in the case of a musical orchestra: each member plays a different instrument. In order to achieve harmony of music from the different instrument, members will polish their part in the piece, aside from practicing as an ensemble. Consequently, they improve individually as an instrument player.
4 | Coaching develops high commitment to common goals
A coaching leader balances the attainment of immediate targets with long-term goals towards the vision of an organisation. As mentioned earlier, with the alignment of personal goals with organisational or team goals, personal interests are kept in check. By constantly communicating the vision through formal and informal conversations, the members are inspired and motivated. Setting short-term team goals aligned with organisational goals; and making an action plan to attain these goals can help sustain the increased motivation and commitment to common goals of the members.
5 | Coaching produces valuable leaders
Leadership by example is important in coaching. A coaching leader loses credibility when he/she cannot practice what he/she preaches. This means that a coaching leader should be well organised, highly competent is his/her field, communicates openly and encourages feedback, and has a clear idea of the organisation ís vision-mission-goals. By vicarious and purposive learning, members catch the same good practices and attitudes from the coaching leader, turning them into coaching leaders themselves. If a member experiences good coaching, he/she is most likely to do the same things when entrusted with formal leadership roles.
Some words of caution though: coaching is just one of the styles of leadership. It can be done in combination with the other five emotional leadership styles depending on the profile of the emerging team. Moreover, coaching as a leadership style requires that you are physically, emotionally, and mentally fit most of the time since it involves two levels of coaching: individual and team. Your members expect you to be the last one to give up or bail out in any situation especially during times of crises. A coaching leader must be conscious that coaching entails investing time on each individual, and on the whole team. Moreover, that the responsibilities are greater since while you are coaching members, you are also developing future coaches as well.