Supporting people to explore and consider
One of my leadership challenges was to stop jumping in with solutions. I knew that to do this I needed to become a better listener and to ask better questions. Coaching offered me a real chance to practise this within a clear framework. I found the coaching and peer coaching techniques so effective that I have taken it back into my workplace and I now regularly coach colleagues (including my CEO). I am also using coaching within my role as a trustee – trying to adopt a more questioning, rather than directive, approach.
I am using the coaching techniques both formally within a set coaching session, but also informally by using the questions and techniques in all my interactions on a daily basis so it really has transformed how I work.
In the formal sessions, I have used GROW as a tool which has worked very well. I watched a brilliant video on this on YouTube and adopted many of the techniques they suggested.
I now try hard to avoid giving a solution straight away, but instead to support people to explore and consider.
I am conscious that I try to convey too much information and have used coaching as a way to avoid this approach. Before I tried to change the World by trying to get everyone to be like me – I now know that this was very naïve – and that more powerful and sustainable results come from within people themselves. I am therefore less wedded to my own process and solution – and have committed myself to helping colleagues to find their own solutions.
The informal coaching has, in some ways, been more impactful than the formal sessions. It has helped me to slow down, not give solution, and to act as a coach however busy I am. I try especially hard in a meeting context. Previously people looked to me to solve problems – but now I seek to use open and developmental questions in my responses so that they can take the lead in generating the next steps. It has changed the dynamic so much and overall we feel much more like a true team.
This transformation has been particularly interesting because we are becoming a non-hierarchical organisation – operating with distributed leadership through a decentralised model. A coaching style fits so well into this evolving culture because it helps people to develop their own approaches to making decisions – now that the previous hierarchy is no longer acting to take that opportunity away from them.