An old chestnut holds that there’s a leader in everyone. But this wisdom has been largely ignored in modern-day organizations, lost in a web of misrepresentations and misnomers. Most times, what managers think is coaching/mentoring leadership isn’t – both in practice or semantics. Times have changed, and so have the requirements for coaching and employee development.
In the modern-day workplace, the meaning of coaching is often conflated, mangled with limited understanding. These misrepresentations are becoming increasingly consequential in a modern-day working environment that’s constantly changing.
In recent research that evaluated the general sentiments of executives about employee development programs, executives strongly admitted to an urgent need for managers to develop and deploy practical coaching skills. They reckon a growing demand for flexible development programs based on a growth-inducing learning culture – not just talent or knowledge acquisition.
In this guide, we’ll look at the faultlines in the prevailing leadership paradigm of the modern-day workplace and how best to fix them using appropriate coaching and mentoring models.
The Peter Principle: A Management Nightmare of Modern Day Businesses
Many businesses are struggling with a hiatus as a result of the Peter Principle. This principle captures a modern-day dilemma that many businesses face when employees run out of skills to dispense their duties effectively as they climb up the corporate ladder.
As your employees take on more senior roles and greater responsibilities, they become increasingly closed to personal interactions and coaching techniques needed for effective leadership. Looking out for so many things per time, they’re increasingly beholden to predictability and mechanical processes.
As such, they adopt leadership styles that try to impose outcomes, emphasizing rigid processes and keeping their subordinates under a tight leash. But ironically, the working environment is in constant flux, and a fluid management system is needed to adapt to changes quickly to remain competitive.
In some instances, a manager’s mechanical approach might not seem obvious. They may believe that they’re coaching, offering advice and guidance while giving subordinates a choice space for their initiatives. But in reality, their subordinates groan for more flexibility in their chosen space.
In a recent study, the self-assessment reports of executives were compared to what their employees think of them. The result showed a glaring contradiction between how they rated their coaching skills and how their employees rated them, with nearly one-third of the executives significantly overrating themselves.
Mentoring VS Coaching
One major reason managers may be mistaken with their leadership style is that they juxtapose mentoring with coaching.
Here’s how coaching is different from mentoring in practical and semantic terms: Mentoring involves offering guidance and advice using superior experience and expertise, while coaching is a subtler form of leadership that stirs curiosity and inspires action.
To put things in perspective, mentoring is about extrinsic motivation – where your subordinates take action based on external information, but coaching is more about internal motivation through development 1:1s – where your subordinates get to generate information internally and originally to inspire positive initiatives.
Coaching is not superior to mentoring and vice versa. Each one is better suited under certain circumstances. The key to effective leadership is knowing how best to combine these two styles, coaching employees to help them develop problem-solving skills on their own while also mentoring them to improve their understanding of your business.
With coaching, the onus is on your employees to find answers. All you need to do is to provide a framework for probing problems and finding solutions. That way, your employees can remain autonomous while pursuing both personal growth and the growth of your business. They can genuinely own the moment when they take on challenges successfully, exercising their creative freedom to build up their capacities as members of your organization.
Tips for Equipping Managers to Mold Leaders in Their Subordinates
1. Encourage One-on-One Development Conversations
Your managers need to make out time to check in one-on-one regularly with employees. Rather than wait for periodic reports, they should take a more proactive approach that’ll help them quickly spot red flags and resolve them on time.
2. Explore Mentoring Partnerships
One-on-one interactions should be encouraged across the board. Everyone should be engaged in peer-to-peer coaching or mentoring partnerships to become accountable for each other’s performance and professional development. Low-level employees can partner with their superiors to share valuable experiences and learn from each other.
3. Use the GROW Model
GROW (Goals, Reality, Options, Will) is one of the most effective coaching methods because it covers every stage of employee development. With the GROW method, managers can work with employees to set goals and compare them to the current situation, assess their options for getting the desired result, and create and implement tenacious action plans. (Read more about GROW model)
4. Daily or Weekly Follow Up of Learning Activities
Employees often lose interest in learning activities when managers do not follow up closely because they may feel the program is not a priority for the organization. By following up on employees regularly, managers can give employees the emotional and technical support they need to stay on track with their development programs.
5. Explore Formal Training Programs
Employees will be more encouraged when they see that the constant learning culture is cascading from the top-down. They’ll be more motivated to engage in training programs if their superiors and managers are enormous fans of training programs and are constantly enrolled in one or another.
Conclusion: Turn Everyone into Coaches and Mentors
To ensure maximum growth and development among your employees, you need to bring out the coach and mentor in everyone. With everyone being more inclined to share their experiences and serve as accountability buddies for individual development plans, your organization can become a shining epitome of a growth-inducing learning culture.