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You Have to Help Them See the Forest

At the end of last week, I got a real treat. My friend Marc Jessup (one of the Principals of a fabulous, dynamic, growing company here in Eastern North Carolina: Flatlands Jessup Insurance Group, and also a company I have the privilege to train for) treated myself and a few others to a helicopter ride from Morehead City to Wilmington, NC, and then an amazing boat ride up the intercoastal waterway back to Morehead.

Marc insisted I sit in the front of the copter since it was my first time ever being in one. The ride down the coast was breath-taking and something I will never forget. The picture above was taken from my seat (looking inland) and somewhat expresses the point of this education piece.

When I’m driving around in our area, although I know that we are in one of the largest coastal national forests on the east coast of the USA, I don’t really notice that. I certainly see plenty of trees, but I cannot really see the forest. My vision is limited to what is in front of me. When we took off from Morehead City, we flew over the commercial district, and within about five minutes, there was nothing but forest, water, and wilderness as far as the eye could see. Hundreds of square miles. It was awe-inspiring and offered great perspective.

When you are leading others in any type of organization, the people in the org. have the view from the ground. Limited to what they know and what is immediately in front of them, and colored by their personal experience in life at the same time. You, on the other hand, have the helicopter view.

You can see where their activity and growth can take them. You see well beyond their day-to-day activities. The process of onboarding and developing your people should begin to give them a glimpse beyond the trees in front of them, and how their efforts around these trees are part of the broader initiative that may be far away from their visibility.

The Key to Taking Them Farther, Faster is Coaching

I don’t say this because I am a coach. I say this because it is one of the smartest approaches you can take in growing the people you serve.

If you are steeped in a culture that understands the tenets of situational leadership, then you are already embracing the coaching aspect of people development. If this is the case, then hopefully this will open up for you insights into how to be more effective. If your organization doesn’t teach this path of development, then this may be a big eye-opener.

Andy Stanley says “Most bosses don’t coach-they reward and reprimand.” I believe this is truer than not, and shifting this can be a game-changer.

The coaching perspective I believe in is the Proactive Success Coaching Approach. This is done two ways: Day-to-day, and situationally.

Most top performers have coaches. If you want to excel in your career you should consider having a coach outside of your organization, as this will help you immensely. And if you want the people you lead and serve to improve faster, you will need to implement a coaching style into your leading, and possibly also hire outside coaches for your team too.

The Primary Issue You face in Coaching as a Boss

The biggest issue is in the perception of the employee being coached. It’s not a typical coaching relationship because you have a stake in the outcome. An outside coach, like me, has no investment in the outcome as it relates to the performance that follows since I don’t participate in the organization’s profit and loss (I do have a philosophical investment from the standpoint that I care about the outcome, but that is not relevant to this). As a boss if those in your charge do better, it reflects positively on you. They know this.

This creates the matter of the person being coached wondering if this is motivation or manipulation. You have to build trust and establish that you care about the person before your coaching has a chance to be taken as authentic.

When to Do It…

Day-by-day is something that you have to be purposeful about. You have to monitor the activity of a newly trained person so that you can discuss tweaks as they go. This is not micromanaging. I said discuss…not TELL. You can engage them with questions about the work, and solicit their feelings, ideas, and input. This shows them that you care, that you believe they are worth the time, and lifts both their esteem and level of ownership. It’s easy to do and takes little time if you know how.

It is not about how well (or not) they are doing the work, it is simply a style. And it will help them improve and tweak, in addition to making on the fly adjustments and constructive feedback easy as opposed to scary, because it is seen as part of the process.

Situational is more structured.

Obviously, team members who are struggling or falling behind need coaching (and perhaps more training), but what about people who are highly productive? Should you take time to sit down and spend an hour with someone who is doing well?

Consider again that top performers in all fields generally have coaches…

ALWAYS pour gas on a fire when it comes to producers. These are people who will make new leaps through coaching, so the answer is yes, sit with them from time to time and challenge them, and help them see the next level of growth.

The other times are when someone who is earning new layers of opportunity:

Are they taking on a new responsibility?

Are they adding a new task, new skill, new job function?

Are they facing a new situation?

Leading a new initiative?

The bottom line is this: Coach your people on a consistent basis and they will do better, feel more valued, and develop a higher level of commitment and loyalty. If you need training on this area, so that you know how to do leadership coaching in supervisory role, reach out to me or someone else who can help you be effective.

In the meantime here is a quick recipe for how I do it. If this is helpful for you please share with other.

If you need some Coaching, or Training for your organization, reach out to me.

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Many Blessings, Todd

P.S. Do you want to live your richest life possible? That doesn’t mean just money, although it does include it if that is important to you. It means becoming the best version of yourself, living with vitality, abundance in health and relationships, finding purpose, fulfillment, etc. The path I take and the one that I know takes you there is 3 Circles Living, click the link and check it out!


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