Leader as Coach, the Leadership Style for the 'New Normal’
2020 has seen a dramatic paradigm shift in the world of work. Virtual work or working from home, once seen as a flexible working benefit, has now become the ‘new normal’. We’ve had to embrace living in a virtual world but it’s also been and continues to be a time of much uncertainty and anxiety. For leaders trying to navigate the ‘new normal’ and manage teams for business success, it is no easy feat. Adaptability is now more crucial than ever because what worked in the past is no longer a guide to what will bring the same success in the future.
Managing people is a complex field and managing people remotely is even more complex. For many managers, life must have seemed simpler when their teams pitched up to work for the day. Everyone could be seen and heard, met with and managed. Now employees need to manage themselves and keep themselves productive and engaged. Yet it’s still the manager’s responsibility to ensure that all of this happens.
Leaders always needed to show empathy for their people. This meant trying to understand what their staff were going through, financially or emotionally or both. But in recent times leaders need to go one step further and not only exhibit empathy but also show a huge amount of compassion. Apart from financial stresses and worries, their employees will now be dealing with sick or dying relatives or friends, and the general angst that a global pandemic brings with it because there’s still so much uncertainty surrounding the implications of it.
Now more than ever it’s crucial for leaders to walk the talk and really display the behaviours they’re trying to instill in their workforce. Leaders always needed to be agile in their leadership styles but now more so than ever. Open lines of communication and transparency are now required more than ever before.
Today’s leaders require coaching skills to help guide their employees through the tumult. Coaching as a leadership style is about guiding and mentoring employees on improving performance in order to achieve business and personal goals. Coaching is a thought provoking, introspective and creative process. The coach asks questions instead of providing solutions or telling their employees what to do. The coaching process is intended to spark insights in the employee who will then come up with the solutions they think might best solve the problems/challenges. Coaching is good for quickly addressing issues or challenges. Coaching establishes an environment of mutual trust, respect and safety to motivate both the manager and the employee.
Coaching is one of the methods that ensures that managers and their employees are constantly engaging and it’s a great mechanism to show employees just how much their leaders support them, especially virtually. With the right support, employees will feel more empowered to triumph over any challenge they might experience. This builds a culture of resilience. Resilience allows people to become more agile in ever changing situations.
As a result, it’s imperative for organisations to upskill their leaders in coaching techniques. Coaching skills are required at all levels of management within an organisation. And it’s important for coaching as a discipline to become part of the company culture. For coaching to be embedded into the culture, managers need to be persuaded of the benefits of coaching and top leaders in the organisation need to lead by example.
Now more than ever before it’s become necessary to equip leaders with coaching acumen and techniques so that they can coach their employees towards success.