Recently I was involved in an experience that vividly reminded me about the importance of effective coaching.
I was engaged in a high endurance event that involved snowshoeing down a mountain at night (with a headlight of course). The course was extreme and required tremendous stamina. I had torn a ligament in my knee two weeks before and realized that my descent was going to be extremely arduous if not terrifying. A friend quickly realized I needed help so she led me down the mountain, inch by inch, step by step, with words of encouragement, with guidance and respect and with patience. I learned a great deal from her technically and was so re-assured by her calm and respectful manner that I was able to complete the event.
She would have had much more fun had she not stayed with me for the 1 hour and 50 minute very difficult descent, but she chose instead to stay with me as my coach although I don’t think she realized this was the role she was playing.
After the adventure, I gave a great deal of thought to my experience and was reminded of my experiences in the not for profit sector where I know most employees would say that they have had little coaching. I also reflected on my years of experience where I have known many employees who have developed into exceptional managers having been effectively coached in that journey. I have also seen many who could have been very competent and effective leaders if more coaching had been available to them.
The new world is being greatly influenced by the Millenials (Gen Y’ers) who have very different expectations of their working environment and how they develop their competencies. The old command and control structures are outdated in today’s progressive and effective organizations.
Contemporary leaders must learn to lead more with informal authority and influence. They must understand how to build strong organizational cultures that foster and reward knowledge transfer across the entire organization, promote team collaboration, cultivate employee engagement, and lead to success. It is essential for leaders to recognize that results are achieved through people. To accomplish this, leaders must be coached and be effective coaches.
It is so nice to have had an experience that forced me to reflect on these important aspects of building healthy and effective organizations.