Someone walks into my office to ask a question. It’s a complex situation and they are looking for guidance, advice and support. They lay out the facts before me and look for any comments I may have. There really are two options before me. One option is to answer the question and to give advice which helps them resolve their situation, and gives them the direction and support they need to proceed. The second option is to not answer their questions nor to give advice but to work to develop the leadership potential within us all to resolve situations within their own confidence and abilities. A simple set of questions helps develop a coaching mindset and processes within your organization which not only builds teams, collaboration and trust, but it deepens and enriches the leadership potential within all of us. What are the ways to allow that to unfold?
We love to give advice. The satisfaction with resolving situations, giving supportive guidance, in essence in “helping” someone makes us all feel good. However, we need to acknowledge that sometimes, giving advice is actually counter-productive to a powerful leadership team. Rather than digest the facts, analyze and give advice or direction, here’s another set of questions:
- What is the decision you want to make?
- Why do you feel this decision is the best option of the things you have considered?
- If you were to communicate that decision right now, how would you feel about that?
- It places the ownership of the issue where it belongs, with the person coming to you. It relays that the responsibility to make the decision is theirs, not yours.
- It forces people to analyze not only the facts behind their decisions, but the emotional connection to how that decision may unfold. We learn an enormous amount from our emotional reaction to decisions.
- It shows trust and empowerment of them to make the right call from within their own resourcefulness.
If an organization is to grow, learn and develop, then this must be through nurturing the people within. Not only is it important to “have the right people on the bus” as Jim Collins reminded us, but it is equally about getting the most out of people who are already on the bus. The only way an organization is to achieve its desired end purpose is through the leadership and skill of the people within. Beginning with developing a coaching culture and mindset is one way to build trust, empowerment, and leadership capacity of your team.
It goes without saying that every conversation is not a coaching conversation. Many questions do and should require an answer. Many times, however, when someone comes through your door or seeks your advice, the best way you can be a supportive colleague is to ask them to look within to the power they already have to make the right call. People are amazing in so many regards, your task is to pull back the leadership curtain that reveals the true potential within us all. Coaching conversations are just one more tool in your kit when the time is right.