Time and again, I would often come across this kind of leader – the frazzled and frustrated type who feels the whole building will collapse if he loses focus for just even a second. This leader believes that to earn his title, he needs to be “everything”. Such a leader somehow feels less if he is not the problem-solver, fixer, know-all and be-all of the team. What happens then is this leader is perpetually in “Command and Control” mode. He has difficulty delegating tasks, and if he ever does, he wants things done exactly his way. Since work keeps expanding and becomes ever more complex, it will eventually get to the point where this leader will end up juggling 100 balls all at once, a scenario for total disaster.
Quite often, I also come across another type of leader —the kind that feels the need to spoon-feed his team to protect them from making big, risky decisions. He prefers “guidance” by telling them what to do and solving all their problems. It is his way of being nurturing. But, when sudden changes occur, the team, used to waiting for the boss’ instructions, have no idea how to move forward. All complex matters are handled by the leader. A team relegated to the shadows has no growth. They cannot step up when it counts, causing frustration on the leader’s part.
As you can tell, both these leadership styles are unsustainable. The situations I just described are the reasons why so many leaders today are burnt out, anxious, frustrated, and feeling like they are carrying the whole world on their backs.
A coaching leadership style, on the other hand, uses a different approach. It means being collaborative, knowing full well that you do not have all the answers. It means asking questions instead of telling people what to do to encourage thinking and inspire fresh new ideas. It’s about involving your team in arriving at solutions, even if it takes more time to get there than using a directive style. What this does is facilitate the optimization of team talent where everyone is part of the solution as creative and critical thinkers, not merely order-takers from the boss.
“Leaders who use coaching as their leadership style are often pleasantly surprised to discover how their team members think; how great their ideas are; and how much more productive and engaged they become when they are given the space to grow and make their own decisions.”
Those afraid to speak up at meetings and share suggestions, for fear of sounding stupid or seeming to outsmart the boss, become more secure when they feel that their leader truly listens and welcomes their ideas. A coaching leadership style heightens a team’s awareness and consequently their self-confidence. They are empowered to take ownership as self-directed learners and independent thinkers. They go the extra mile and feel more engaged with the company than before because they are part of its success.
“Team members begin to realize their readiness for broader roles and leadership positions. This then eases the pressure from the leader to know everything and find all the solutions for the team.“
A coaching style of leadership isn’t always easy. It requires a total shift in mindset, stepping down from your pedestal to understand that you do not know it all and you do not have to be the smartest in the team. It requires leaving behind old habits that have worked for you. It may have led you to the leadership role that you have today. But understand, ‘what got you here, won’t get you there.’ A coaching style of leadership means you give allowance for mistakes; for hit-and-miss decisions; for taking risks; and failing forward. In turn, you develop a strong, empowered and engaged team.
As Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric, puts it:
“Before leadership, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader,
success is all about growing others.”
Are you willing to take this challenge?
Julius Ordoñez, MCC, ACTC
Julius Ordoñez is the President and founder of Benchmark Consulting. He has over 20 years of experience in organizational, leadership and team development, executive coaching, management consulting, business management and mentoring.
He is the Philippines’ first ICF Master Certified Coach and among the world’s first to receive the ICF Advanced Certification in Team Coaching. He was also the President of Asia Pacific Alliance of Coaches and the founder of the ICF Philippines Chapter.
He has worked with the senior leadership teams of top multinational and multi-cultural organizations across the globe, helping them attain their critical goals and realize their fullest potential. He has personally trained and mentored more than 500 professional coaches based in 22 countries; trained thousands of leaders on coaching skills; and helped numerous companies build a coaching culture.