Those Who Can’t – Coach. WRONG.

Great basketball coaches don’t need to be seven feet tall to understand how to switch from a four point press to man-to-man defense when the time is needed for it. Tennis coaches don’t need eight trophies on their shelf to know that a player’s grip is too far forward preventing a greater speed on the serve. Coaches have skills, different skills, that make them successful and qualified for asking that “ah-ha” question. These skills are essential for business leaders.

Sitting down with a direct report and conducting a one-to-one discussion about the executive level, short-term and long-term issues affecting the company is one of the most effective ways a leader can use his/her time. And the time of the direct report.

Well conducted coaching sessions allow leaders to:

  1. Model behaviors they want emulated;
  2. Increase clarity and alignment with respect to vision and prioritized tasks;
  3. Better understand the skills and perspectives of their employees;
  4. Teach content and skills;
  5. Assess the pulse of the organization;
  6. Build a stronger relationship by showing how much you value them on your team.

When leaders share their past experiences and help a direct report problem solve current issues by asking great questions, direct reports learn how to reflect, evaluate, predict and execute on future business issues.

The Coach’s Clipboard:

  1. Schedule coaching sessions with your direct reports in advance. One a month is the suggested rule of thumb.
  2. Both participants bring an agenda.
  3. Every coaching session concludes with an action plan. This plan includes mutually agreed upon action items and deadlines.
  • 25% long term strategy
  • 25% specific issue to explore in-depth
  • 25% operational or people issues
  • 25% personal

Some coaching questions to get you started:

  1. What is the most important thing you and I should be talking about today?
  2. What has become clear since we last met?
  3. What is the area that, if you made an improvement, would give you and others the greatest return on time, energy and dollars invested?
  4. What’s the most important decision you’re facing? What’s keeping you from making it?
  5. What roadblocks are you currently facing? How can I help you deal with them? (roadblocks are things that keep you from being more effective or things that they/I/you do that hinder your effectiveness)
  6. What topic are you hoping I won’t bring up?
  7. What area under your responsibility are you most satisfied with? Least satisfied?
  8. Who are your strongest employees? What are you doing to ensure that they’re happy and motivated?


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