RESOURCES

Coaching For Greatness

In Leadership

By Michael Tonkin

9 Strategic Tips To Elevate Performance

“Greatness” in organisations is defined by Jim Collins as three things: (1) superior financial results, (2) distinctive impact (people couldn’t imagine a life without) and (3) lasting endurance (prospers over a long time despite setbacks and changes in leadership).
So, how do we as leaders coach our people to be great? Using the “Greatness” acronym we have developed our own version of the individual elements that can help leaders Coach For Greatness. What are the opportunities for you and your leaders to elevate greatness in your organisation?

Guard The End Game
Guarding the end game is all about keeping the message simple to your teams and repeating this same message over and over. It’s about communicating changes along the way and not getting distracted by the noise. As authors Steve Zaffron and Dave Logan commented in Three laws of performance, “the key to performance isn’t pushing new conversations about strategy into an already crammed space; rather it’s clearing out the clutter.”

Recognise Differences
One way to look at the differences in your team is how each team member likes to respond to change. In very simple terms, there are two types.

Type 1:

-Likes to move fast
-Tends to focus on action
-Enjoys spontaneity, can be impulsive
-Plans by bouncing ideas around
-Doesn’t mind ‘firefighting’
-Only needs a broad understanding

Type 2:

-Likes to move more slowly
-Tends to focus on people
-Tends to be cautious and careful
-Plans by reflection, needing space
-Gets stressed by crisis
-More comfortable with some detail

So when you’re coaching for greatness, you need to recognise these differences in your team when you’re planning your next major change and lead accordingly.

Engage Hearts and Minds
The root of the word “inspire” means to take breath in, to fill with spirit. Inspiration is the capacity to move people by reaching in and filling their hearts from deeper sources of meaning (The Practice of Adaptive Leadership, Ronald Heifetz).

So it’s important to know when it’s time to turn up the inspiration dial. Usually it’s when …
-People have forgotten their purpose
-When groups are reaching the limits of their tolerance for each other
-People are beginning to lose hope
-A better future is beyond anyone’s imagination

…“the key to performance isn’t pushing new conversations about strategy into an already crammed space; rather it’s clearing out the clutter.”…

Ask For Big
The 10X rule by author Grant Cardone is a concept worth exploring and is founded on a whole lot of empirical evidence. The concept is this: in order to get to the next level of whatever you’re doing, you must think and act in a wildly different way than before –you cannot get to the next level without a grander mindset, more acceleration or more horsepower. You must therefore set targets that are 10 times what you think you want and then do 10 times what you think it will take to accomplish those targets.

Think Strengths
In coaching and leading our teams it’s so tempting to think that performance gains will come from ‘fixing’ our team’s development areas, the things they’re not so good at. Research from Gallup indicates that in fact it’s quite the opposite. They found that when we focus on strengths, productivity and performance can increase by up to 40%. So the opportunity for us as leaders is to address any ‘fatal’ flaws that clearly need development, but otherwise maximise people’s strengths and watch their performance soar.

Negotiate Through Influence
“To be successful, leaders must see themselves more as catalysts for problem solving than as problem solvers per se.” (Charalambos Vlachoutsicos).
Coaching is essentially a dialogue or conversation. The coaching conversation is about promoting self-discovery and through this, enabling people to take responsibility for their own actions. It is about establishing trust. It is about asking rather than telling. To be a great coach, you need to be able to ask insightful questions. Here are a few examples:
-If 10/10 is perfection, where do you think you are right now?
-What does this tell you about yourself?
-What could be some reasons why you’re not quite there right now?
-With the benefit of hindsight, what would you do differently?
-Think of a time when you were doing well in this area –what was happening?
-Are these actions enough of a stretch to get the results you’re after?
-How will you know if the plan is working?
-How do you want me to hold you accountable against this goal?
-What could get in the way of sticking to the plan? How will we overcome this?

…when we focus on strengths, productivity and performance can increase by up to 40%…

Earn The Right To Develop The Whole Person
If one of your team members gets easily overwhelmed when things get tough, how would you handle it? What would you do? It’s definitely a coaching moment for you as leader but it also sits outside the typical coaching conversations around quality, speed, cost, etc. To venture in to the deeper space of people’s values, beliefs, attitudes, anxieties and deep rooted personality traits, you need to first earn the right to develop the whole person. You need a level of trust that promotes candor in the relationship, where both of you are prepared to drop the guard and let each other in.

Sustain The Change
According to Roger Connors and Tom Smith from the Oz Principle, 1994, businesses suffer from a crisis of accountability. To address the crisis, leaders too often fall back on the power of their positions, expecting accountability from others rather than engaging it. Research shows that people feel that accountability is something negative that happens to them -usually when things go wrong -rather than something they utilise to ensure success.
When leaders hold people accountable the wrong way, they experience the ‘Accountability Paradox’; the harder they try and hold someone accountable, the less accountable they become, resulting in negative accountability and poor results.

…To venture in to the deeper space of people’s values, beliefs, attitudes, anxieties and deep rooted personality traits, you need to first earn the right to develop the whole person…

Shape The Next Generation
Coaching the people in front of you to be great is amazing. Greatness in a coaching context is also about helping to shape the next generation of future leaders, to set them up to be successful. It feels big and distant right now, however great leaders are already helping their teams see their future careers within the organisation.

WOW. There’s a lot in our Greatness acronym! Think about the top three that matter most to you right now. What about culturally in your organisation -what lessons can you take to your whole organisation?

It’s now time to coach our people to be great!

This blog is taken from our Performance Leadership eBook. Download your copy today.

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