I’m currently teaching a class how to lead using coaching skills and techniques. Adopting a coaching style to lead is about empowering, releasing and giving people permission to become their most authentic and powerful selves. This style of leadership helps people to become who they were created to be. You can help people to create vision or solutions around their own unique strengths, skills, passion and heart. Consequently the result is that you don’t just hand out quick ideas from your battery of experience of what you have found has worked for you countless times. (I realize there is a time and place for this too). But you can lead someone by coaching them into finding a tailor made answer from their own creativity and expertise. When you lead in this way they are fully engaged with moving forward as they own the idea.
Questions instead of answers
The key place to start to lead without opinion is to learn to ask questions instead of making suggestions. The questions need to be really good and powerful questions. When my current class started learning to ask questions instead of suggesting solutions, they found it very hard. Most of us do. Ok so be honest how hard would you find it to not fix a problem presented to you by someone by giving them great answers and solutions?
Making suggestions, providing an answer is instinctive in the way we have learnt to communicate, to care, to lead and to manage. And yet, excellent leadership, leadership which carries the most influence is where the leaders empower those they lead through enabling them to think for themselves. A truly powerful leader will empower those they lead so well, that they raise them up to do their job! Does that sound scary to you?
Believing in change and growth
The foundational belief to adopt to make all this work is to believe in constantly growing and learning? I am passionate about this and believe this mindset gives us the best possible most exciting lives! One key to adopting this approach is to operate in every role you do seeking to raise others up to replace you. This methodology provides you with a route to change and grow and move up onto different things yourself. Those you raise up become your legacy.
In my previous life of being a manager of a marketing department I did this and feel proud that I played a part in growing several strong leaders who have gone on to lead and manage themselves.
Parking your opinion for the sake of this mission is a great first step in becoming a powerful influential leader of others. It’s hard at first but gets easier. Here are some powerful questions you can ask to shift the emphasis of a situation onto the person finding their own solution:
I have an opinion, but what is yours?
What would you like to see happen in this situation?
How would you approach solving this and finding a solution?
What’s your vision for this project?
What role do you see yourself playing in making this happen?
What is your vision for your job role?
What ideas do you have?
In what way could you use your strengths and skills to achieve this?
What’s important about that to you?
What could be done differently to improve this?
How could you make this more efficient?
In 12 months what key changes would you like to make to get to where we are headed?
What key goals do you have?
The list can go on and one but this is a blog not a book! The current class I am teaching has started to learn how to ask powerful questions and is enjoying a whole new experience through it. One lady said I had a completely different way of sorting out that issue and moving the person on, but what they came up with was great! You will be amazed at how you will be able to ‘mine out’ people’s greatness. This greatness has in many cases been buried for a long time, as people have got used to becoming passive robots responding to detailed instructions. People have got used to asking for answers and in many ways have become lazy in thinking out their own answers. Most leadership and even most relationships seek to give answers instead of mining out the answers from the person they are helping.
Every one of us is a treasure chest full of gold. We each think differently, approach situations very differently, and have very different strengths and skills. There is of course immense value in sharing our skills collectively in the context of community and offering our strength in leadership to those that need it. However, sometimes our greatest strength as leaders is to learn how to harness our strength, to choose to not exercise it, to allow those we lead to become empowered, to grow their wings and be ready to fly the nest!