Three Tips to Being a Better Coach

Leadership isn’t about you shining; it’s about helping those you lead to shine. After all, if your success is based on the success of those you lead, it’s in everyone’s best interest for you to do whatever you can to help them excel.

One of the most important roles we play as leaders is that of coach. Coaches have the gift of perspective. Ideally, you bring an experienced outside eye that can see what’s working well, and what could be improved upon.

However, having a keen eye, in and of itself, doesn’t make you a great coach. How skillfully do you share your insights? I’ve worked with incredibly talented leaders who were absolutely dreadful at coaching. The fact is, if you don’t create an optimal environment for feedback to stick, it doesn’t matter how much wisdom you bring to the table.

Here are three tips to improve your coaching skill:

  1. Frequency. Feedback should be part of your everyday conversations. How comfortable do you think people feel with feedback if it only happens once every three or six months? When feedback becomes ordinary , we relax into it. Feedback is seen as “helping” rather than “judging”.

  2. Framework. Have a consistent method and model for feedback sharing. Particularly effective is to ask someone to give themselves feedback first. I suggest using the “+/EBI” model. (+ is what worked well. EBI is what would make it Even Better If you did it again.) By asking for self-feedback first, you can gauge how self-aware they are, and adjust your feedback accordingly.

  3. Focus. What makes for high quality feedback? Specificity. The more detailed you can be, (“Here’s what you did. Here’s what you said. Here’s what you could have done instead.”) the more useful the feedback is. By dissecting the feedback down to the behavioral level, it can be analyzed without any ego getting in the way. Then, it can be re-assembled and replicated to improve future performance.

Many leaders say “we’re all about open feedback”, but their actions don’t support it. One of the biggest hurdles? It takes time and dedication to do this well. If you’re truly committed to helping others improve, these three tips can help you help you make significant difference to those you lead.

What other tips do you have for the feedback process? Join the conversation by leaving a comment below.

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