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How To Be More Coach-Like

An underappreciated leadership and management skill is the ability to coach people you work with. Here are three coaching tools you can action immediately.

Photo by vonvix on Unsplash


It takes time, patience and a lot of hard work to become a qualified coach.

And even when you've qualified it takes a lot of time, learning and development to improve.

And even then, you need to seek supervision to make sure you are serving your clients properly.

And even then, sometime we mess it up!

That's why we call it a practice. No coach ever arrives as the finished article. Whenever we think we've cracked it, the universe has a habit of sending us a challenge we've never seen before. Just to keep us humble.

And yet, this is no reason not to try to be more coach-like in your interactions at work. For many people a coaching style of leadership has huge benefits for them and their teams.

So, here are three simple ideas you can hold in mind if you want to have a coaching conversation:

  1. Hear no evil. We're conditioned to have an emotional response to the things people say to us. That might be because they trigger uncomfortable feelings. Try to remain neutral. Be curious. If you find yourself having an emotional response, simply say something like, "that's interesting, tell me more about that". You'll be amazed how much more you learn and connect with this approach.

  2. See no evil. Often when we think we are listening, we are really judging. This happens because ideas or words conflict with our values or challenge what we think the other person should be doing or saying. If you find you are judging (rather than listening), try saying to yourself, "if I was this person, in this place, at this time, with their experiences and conditioning, I would be doing and saying exactly the same". By collapsing the distance between us, we create a better opportunity for shared understanding.

  3. Speak no evil. Often in a conversation we are not really paying attention, because we're waiting for our turn to speak. How often have you found yourself irritated that someone won't give you space to jump in? If you were having that feeling, you were not paying proper attention. To counteract this, give yourself a simple goal, to ask more questions than you make statements. When you try this, you'll have a different level of connection. Don't be surprised if the person doesn't say "thanks for the conversation, I really enjoyed that", even though you barely spoke at all.

You might be wondering whether this can really work. After all, don't people talk to you precisely because they want your opinion or expertise? That might be true if you have some specialist or technical expertise.

But, coaching is built on the idea that people already hold the answers to the problems they have. The job of the coach (or colleague) is to help them to see what they already know.

And if you can do that, they'll think you are amazing.

Because you are 🙏

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