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Everyday Coaching for Everyday Leaders

May 7, 2019

By Diane Gilbert, CPA, FP&A, Director, Budgeting & Forecasting, Vanderbilt Medical Center

There’s quite a bit of buzz in the business world these days around the topic of coaching. All too often it’s perceived as either a perk provided by companies for the professional development of high-level executives, or a tool used to correct behavior in poor performers. This makes coaching sound like something you either haven’t earned yet or don’t ever want. The reality is that coaching skills can be utilized by anyone to improve a team or workgroup’s effectiveness.

While there are numerous skills one must be trained in to become a Certified Coach. We want to share a few of the concepts that you can incorporate with your teams today.

KNOW THE GOAL

It may sound simplistic, but knowing your goal is incredibly powerful. How many meetings have you attended—or even led—where discussion about a topic carried on at length, but by the end, no one could vocalize what was accomplished? This can be mitigated by diligently agreeing on the exact goal of the meeting. And the goal should be for this meeting/discussion—not the entire project, sales year, etc. Focusing on this specific goal creates guardrails to ensure the discussion stays on track. Even if it takes 15-20 minutes to clearly communicate the goal, it is worth the investment.

LISTEN ACTIVELY

In a culture of constant connectivity that prides itself on the ability to multitask, listening actively is more difficult than it sounds. I know leaders who never attend a meeting without their laptop or tablet and phone so they don’t miss anything. Unfortunately, they miss more than they realize.

Active listening is a skill that takes time and practice, and there are numerous books that can provide an in-depth education. For our purposes, it involves listening to the speaker—what they say, how they say it, what they don’t say, their body language, their energy level, and multiple other attributes. Only when you truly listen, do you have the capacity to ask relevant, powerful questions that move you toward the goal. 

SUMMARIZE

We’ve all had the experience of leaving a meeting and hearing others chat about not knowing what was accomplished or the next steps necessary. Another everyday coaching skill is to restate or summarize what was learned during the discussion. This is very simple to do, but many meetings end without so much as a summary of the discussion. This can leave the team feeling like they’ve wasted their time. Merely taking the last three minutes to summarize the discussion or findings and get agreement on the next steps will increase the team members’ ownership of the process and their feeling of belonging within the group.

As you can see, coaching skills are not just for executives and poor performers. Each of us can incorporate some of these tools today and experience higher levels of engagement in our teams and improve their overall effectiveness.

For more insights, attend the AFP 2019 session, Coaching ROI: A Path for Creating High-Performing Teams, featuring Diane Gilbert and Michael Richard Cauley, Director of Instruction, Associate Professor of Professional Studies, Lead Faculty of Performance Coaching Program at Lipscomb University and Principal of Goal Design LLC. Register for AFP 2019 here.