Leadership for Life – Proactive Coaching

By on September 1, 2012
Proactive Coaching

Our Leadership experts will be sharing tips and insights for everyone, at any station in life, at both home and work. Leadership for Life – the skills you embrace represent who you really are at all times.

In the previous blog I talked about three important beliefs that great leaders subscribe to. Today I want to discuss an important skill – coaching.

Coaching can be done in two ways: to improve performance when someone’s skills or numbers have slipped, or to proactively develop skills necessary to accomplishing a task before the task has begun. Whenever possible, the latter type is preferred. Proactive coaching is all about development. Both the coach and the employee tend to be positive in their approach, and the experience is more pleasant for both of them. Coaching for improvement, while important, is often about giving negative feedback to begin with, and can color the ensuing coaching discussion with unpleasant overtones of “get better, or else.”

Proactively coaching employees means helping them to take on new tasks and learn new skills by teaching them in advance what they need to know. A skilled coach will allow the learner to develop ideas and approaches to the task herself when possible, rather than simply telling her what to do. By drawing out the best ideas, and providing expert information to focus those ideas, the leader ensures that the learner will be committed to the task and carry it out skillfully and enthusiastically. Just telling people what to do and how to do it generally results in people following orders, but doesn’t create the same kind of commitment to the task.

When an employee takes on an unfamiliar task, he may feel anxious about doing a good job, and may require some hand holding at the beginning. Proactive coaching can improve confidence and skill, allowing the employee to approach the new task with a positive and enthusiastic outlook.

Anybody have any examples of excellent proactive coaching? Either comment below or send me email at bschapiro@stlcc.edu.

About Barry Schapiro

Barry is the Workforce Solutions Group Practice Leader for Leadership and Professional Development. His experience includes delivery and management of business training in a variety of industries, with specialties in leadership, team development, generational diversity, and customer service. Twitter

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