Leading, directing, managing, and problem solving are all essential elements of our work.
EXAMPLEThink about this situation: You are in charge of a project, deadlines are slipping, other departments are frustrated with you, and your team is looking to you to get back on track. You know you are responsible for the team's performance and proceed with a Manager's Mindset to take action. You would most likely:
However, there are times when other approaches are called for if we want to develop our people and encourage them to take the initiative and create their own solutions.
A coaching Mindset allows us to move from the directive and prescriptive stance to a developmental approach where we focus on working with team members to strengthen their skills.
EXAMPLENow, think about another scenario: You have an individual who consistently performs well, exceeds expectations, and is highly valued in your department. Lately, however, you've noticed some things are slipping. Using a coaching Mindset, you would:
We can think about managing and coaching mindsets on a continuum from a highly directive, prescriptive approach to a more facilitative, coaching approach.
On the directive end of the spectrum, individuals focus on telling, fixing problems, creating consequences, and being completely in control of the situation. Often, the energy exuded by the leader is highly focused, at times pressured, and moving at a fast pace. The underlying belief of the leader is that he or she needs to act in order to move the project forward and team members are unprepared to do so.
On the facilitative end of the spectrum, individuals focus on asking questions, sharing observations, offering support, and facilitating collaboration. Interactions with individuals on the facilitative end are deliberately focused on developing the individual through an exploration of options and encouraging the individual to come up with their own solutions. The underlying belief of the leader is that this individual has the skills needed to take more initiative to solve the problem and just needs some coaching in order to develop their own best options. Problems are opportunities to further develop an individual's talents.
The mid-range of the spectrum represents a manager who combines some of both approaches. Often individuals in the middle will provide high-level direction but delegate responsibility to someone else. They may also help in a directive manner but open up opportunities for coaching an individual later if appropriate to the situation.
To continue to develop as an effective leader, the key is to build capacity and flexibility to go one direction or the other based on the circumstances at hand. Great managers and leaders need to shift approaches, styles, and perspectives based on the needs of the individual, context, and situation.
As managers and leaders, we need to be able to step back and notice where the managing mindset works best and where the opportunities for a coaching Mindset appear. Of course, it's not always clear-cut, but there are times when the door is open to deliberately develop our people by slowing down and taking a coach-like approach. There are just as many times when deadlines are tight, skills are not high, and we need to move into a managing mindset and use a more directive and problem-solving approach. Often, the real issue at hand is not readily apparent, and the constraints are great.
Here are some characteristics that help to determine when to manage and when to coach.
|The coaching mindset is appropriate when:||The managing mindset is appropriate when:|
The critical step for the leader is taking some time to determine the best approach before responding to a situation. Slow down the pace for a moment, take time to step outside of the situation, assess the situation, and ask yourself which approach will effectively address the situation given the constraints. Which approach will lead to the best results in the short-term versus the long-term?
The transition from relying on one approach to building your capacity to adjust your approach to each situation requires some real focus on your part. The goal is to deepen your capacity and build flexibility in moving from one end of the spectrum to the other. For most of us, expanding our repertoire takes time and conscious effort.
EXAMPLEConsider this situation: Andy is a manager wanting to broaden his approach from a mostly directive style to engaging in a more facilitative approach. At first, his list of requirements to make the move seemed enormous. He needed:
Authored by Kerrie Roberson, DHA, MBA, MSN, BSN, RN-BC, CMSRN, WAAD