Leadership and coaching go hand in hand. Often I hear managers telling employees what they need to do instead of coaching them. Reminding me of the old management style of “Do as I say, not as I do.” I was definitely raised with this style of management. Then once every ten years or so, I would come across a real leader and coach. They are the people that I visit in my head when I am looking for leadership and coaching guidance. It starts off with having the right mindset and looking at the potential in someone instead of what they can offer you now. Then building trust with your team by consistent communication, being open, showing warmth, telling the truth, being confident and most importantly getting vulnerable. When you sit down to coach an employee, you start off by asking what they are looking for in their professional growth. Then you listen; really listen to them, for understanding, not to respond. Once you have a good understanding of what they want to focus on, you support them continually.
I had the great benefit of working with a leader just like this. His name is Kevin Cronin and at the time he was a regional manager for a restaurant group in San Francisco. When he hired me he said that he didn’t expect me to know everything, such as the importance of ordering the kid’s food first when a family sat down to eat together. Instead he said that he would show me those details to help grow my skills. Then he asked me what area of the industry that I wanted to focus on for my own growth. At the time it was my wine knowledge, being a restaurant manager in San Francisco at the age of 26, was a little intimidating to say the least. He gave me a simple wine book to support me on my journey. Then he sent me to the Sterling School of Hospitality and Wine in Napa Valley so that I could learn from professionals. He also gave me a beautiful bone designed wine opener that I still have and cherish. He knew that as a leader, if he invested in me, I would in turn be dedicated to my team and the company. When we put people first and support them, organically they are committed to you and the company. If they aren’t, you might want to reference Adam Grant’s TED Talk on givers or takers.
Once you feel confident on your coaching skills, because you have built trust and you are asking them instead of telling them, that is the time to also look at your level of empathy and compassion. Brene Brown has multiple videos on these concepts and the importance of them. It is being able to put yourself in one’s shoes, understanding what they are experiencing, yet it is also being able to be compassionate for their situation. This takes effort in showing them that you have heard them and acknowledging how challenging their situation might be. This also includes removing the silver lining. If you try to outline the positive of the situation, it takes away from really being empathetic. Instead, a simple response of, “I am so sorry you are going through this right now. It must be really hard.” I am always a fan of a big hug and sharing that I am here for them in any way I can be. I coached an agent that struggled with empathy when we first started coaching together. I would listen to her recorded sales calls and hear snarky tones and then people would share that they just had a family member pass and she wouldn’t acknowledge what they shared at all. She explained that it made her feel uncomfortable to hear such news and she didn’t know how to react. So we talked about options of what she could have said. I shared with her the 7 Phrases That Convey Empathy by Myra Golden:
The next step is to ensure you are motivating your team. Yusuf Tokdemir wrote an article titled; Discover What Motivates People More Than Money and his tips include the following: