3 Steps to Get Leaders Coaching More Often

3 Steps to Get Leaders Coaching More Often

by Alan Fine, New York Times Bestselling Author and Performance Coach


In the last three decades my fascination with what drives performance improvement has put me face-to-face with people from many walks of life, all trying to find their best selves. I’ve found that people often intuitively turn to a coach when they want to close the gap between their current and desired performance.

One thing I know for sure is that coaching—done well—is instrumental in changing lives and getting peak performance. It’s a performance improvement practice that has proven itself at the individual, team, and organizational level to have immediate and sustainable impact.

However, time and time again I observe organizations getting stuck when it comes to creating a culture of coaching, and making coaching count where it matters most. To build a coaching culture, there are 3 critical elements that cause coaching programs to stick.

 1: Provide a simple coaching process for leaders

The complexity of human interactions can make coaching conversations difficult to have, especially when high emotions are involved. With a simple coaching process (a conversation map) to follow, coaching can simplify the world of a leader and accelerate the performance of individual contributors and the entire team.

To get more leaders coaching, the process must be simple enough to use often, and when under pressure. It should also enable people to use or organize knowledge and skills they already have. To gain leader buy-in and organizational adoption, any coaching process must be easy to use, highly transferable, and make a noticeable impact.

2: Spot the everyday opportunities

In its simplest form, coaching is an ongoing dialogue or conversation that helps people get from where they are to where they want to go. These conversations accelerate the speed and accuracy of decisions, or Decision Velocity™, which lead to actions that generate the desired results. Opportunities to improve Decision Velocity are all around us.

Every day leaders are presented with big, and small, opportunities to have coaching dialogue—mostly on an informal basis. By recognizing coaching moments more readily, managers and leaders can more consistently tap into the power of coaching and use their coaching skills.

So how can we help leaders in our organizations to spot coaching opportunities? I’ve found that these questions can help uncover potential for having a productive coaching conversation:

  • Is there a gap between the present state and the desired state?
  • Is there a problem or issue that needs to be solved?
  • Does the person (coachee) seem stuck or paralyzed by the gap, problem, or issue?

3: Make Coaching Visible

Given how big an impact coaching can make, it becomes critical to do the same with coaching that we do with anything that is critical to the performance of an organization. We need to track, measure, reward, and reinforce the coaching behaviors. Human beings have a tendency to lose awareness—for our attention to stray. Being able to look in the mirror and see our coaching behaviors is very important in helping us stay focused. At minimum, asking managers to answer the following four questions will cause them to keep their attention on what’s important:

  • How much are you coaching?
  • What are you coaching on (is it what’s most important)?
  • Is it having an impact?
  • What are your insights and learning as you have coached?

Research and anecdotal experience tells us that coaching can have a meaningful impact on individuals and organizations alike. It’s no longer a question of whether coaching works or not. The question now has to be, if you are not getting the results you want from your coaching program, what might be missing?

Alan will be speaking at the 2016 Symposium hosted by The Institute for Performance and Learning on June 17 in Vancouver. Find out more.

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