How Can Leaders Prepare for Coaching Moments?

There is nothing worse than feeling an opportunity to help someone grow gets away from us. Have you ever experienced that moment when you wished you had said something to coach a team member in a certain direction, but the interaction dissolved? One of the reasons we allow these important sessions to escape is because we are not actively listening. We may think that we know what our colleague is saying, but we are not taking the time to invest in understanding what is being communicated.

In Sunday’s NY Times Corner Office discussion, Miki Leondakis, chief operating officer of Kimpton Hotel and Restaurant Group explained:

“One of the things that has evolved in my leadership style is learning to listen first when there’s a problem. Rather than sitting down with someone and telling them what’s wrong or what needs to be addressed or fixed, I ask how this came about and listen to the back story. And then, when I understand it, I can turn it into a coaching moment rather than a moment of judgment and fear and intimidation.”

Coaching is one of those skills that many leaders have very little experience. Being able to help others reach their potential and perform at extraordinary levels is what leadership is all about. A beginning point to coaching is being able to establish rapport with the coachee and truly listening to the exchange of ideas. So how can a leader show they are effectively listening?

  • Give your coachee undivided attention
  • Do not participate in other tasks during your session- no phone calls, e-mails, texts
  • Use appropriate non-verbals that correspond to the discussion
  • Ask open-ended questions that can get at the heart of what is the problem or issue
  • Ask coachees to restate what is said in order to assure understanding and clarity
  • Ask for questions or concerns

Spending the time coaching can create an effective performing team and begins with listening. The coachees will feel valued and trust you to lead them because you care. A coaching session can be as short as 10 minutes or as long as one needs. The critical aspect for leaders is to create a coaching culture that involves hearing what is being communicated. A two way street of sharing ideas is at the heart of a successful coach and coachee relationship.

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