Does coaching deserve a dedicated line item in the budget? When it comes to managing remote teams, leading across boundaries and creating inclusion for all, the answer is a resounding “yes”. That’s According to Harvard Business Review, where five workplace priorities are emerging for top business leaders – and they all contain a people component:
- Protect people
- Communicate effectively
- Maintain continuity of work
- Assess workforce costs
- Prepare for recovery
While employees value coaching, and senior executives value coaching, there’s often a disconnect between desire and action. According to PWC research on creating strategic resilience, emerging stronger means dealing with disruption. Can chaos be better contained through effective leadership coaching?
During times of uncertainty surrounding returning to work, coaching can help to maximize performance by emphasizing the people element inside your organization. An emphasis on empathy helps remote teams – as well as remote leaders – to find peak performance during changing times. That’s according to Steve Chandler, the founder of the Coaching Prosperity School. He’s worked with corporations and leaders across multiple industries, and he’s author or co-author of 30 books (including Time Warrior, The Hands-Off Manager, Business Coaching and more) that have been translated into 25 languages. Steve shared some valuable insights about the impact of coaching for remote teams:
Chris Westfall: How do you define coaching, in working with remote teams?
STEVE CHANDLER: To coach is to encourage.
CW: Seems like that’s a resource in short supply these days. Encouragement, like empathy, can be seen as a soft skill that doesn’t always lead to hard results. Why do people think that management and direction is faster than coaching? Is it?
SC: Sometimes it is. When a challenge or opportunity is urgent and important nothing’s faster than just telling someone what to do.
But if, as a leader and manager, that’s all you ever do is issue directives and expect people to find sufficient motivation to do them well because of your superior rank in the organization, you are in fora lot of frustration.
CW: Where does coaching make the most sense, as a management strategy?
SC: Listening creates trust and built-in accountability between the leader and the person or team being led. People are more likely to give you their top performance if they know you’ve got their back and that you are committed to helping them succeed on the job.
CW: So Steve, What are the characteristics of a good coach at work? Listening and empathy and impact can sometimes be hard to measure. How do you know if you’re getting it right?
SC: Willingness to listen non-judgmentally for where your person might need some help, some guidance. Being willing to offer some shared experience, instead of just direction or instruction.
CW: Why is coaching such a vital skill, in the workplace?
SC: Because it keeps communication and motivation at a high level.It inspires more people to work as a team and contribute innovative ideas and creativity that quicken the success of the mission. Strong leaders from decades ago got by with more of a hierarchical military model, ruling by the strength of their personal ego. Today’s workforce does not have the kind of industrial or military mindset and that has them just “shut up and follow orders”. Employees on remote teams want to learn and grow.
CW: Seems like you advocate for a more collaborative model. Based on what I’m seeing, that’s the only way to approach knowledge workers and executive leaders today: from a place of listening, empathy and understanding.
SC: Nobody wants to be “held accountable” in an intimidating, punitive way for what they don’t know how to do well. They want to be “coached-up” when needed, and they want to be respected as part of an exciting team.
Accessing empathy and greater listening is a coaching skill that anyone can use, anytime. Self-leadership begins with understanding the role of encouragement – for yourself and for your team. After all, as the saying goes, “If being hard on yourself were going to work, it would have worked by now.” Creating peak performance in a disruptive space is easier when you don’t have to go it alone. Having a coach in your corner can create the encouragement you need, to access new perspectives and find new results.