Having effective leadership skills means being able to get the best out of your team and guide them to deliver on your goals and objectives. For successful project managers, this most often doesn’t mean adopting one specific management style, but rather being adaptable and adjusting their approach depending on the team and context.
Some organizations are addressing this need by adopting a coaching culture among their leadership.
A coaching culture, as opposed to a management culture, seeks to empower team members to discover and trust their own solutions rather than giving them top-down direction on their problem-solving. This approach creates an environment where the employee can grow and develop their own skills, increasing the value they deliver, while managers themselves can cut down on micro-management.
See the long-term path
Coaching as a culture should be seen as a collaboration with the employee, aiming to help them get to where they want to be long-term, which in turn will help the organization get to where it wants to be. As leadership skills go, it can be tough to play the long game when you can see a possible short-term fix, but it is this approach that will make your team the adaptable and self-starting unit that you want it to be.
Embracing coaching culture
For coaching culture to have the greatest effect, it’s essential that the organization sees it as just that: a culture, a permanent process of how the organization works rather than a one-off session or collection of faddish processes to try out and promptly forget. Employees need to see that there is commitment from leadership before they can truly buy into what you’re trying to achieve.
Nurturing your team’s talent
Everyone has potential. Other management approaches might consider it to be an employee’s own obligation to improve their skills or pursue further education, but coaching sees it as a joint process. Assisting team members to fulfill their potential requires working with them on setting out their skill development plans – including how to go about achieving their goals – then checking in with them at intervals to monitor progress and assist where possible.
This approach maximizes the value of the manager’s personal experience and knowledge of the industry, distributing that knowledge throughout the team rather than just reserving it for leadership decision-making.
Taking a more holistic view of staff
Most employees like to segment their approaches to work and life. They view the future as something they have to sort out on their own, so they may be happy to adopt the values and expectations of their organization in the present but prefer to keep their personal needs as far from work as possible.
Coaching culture, however, takes a more holistic approach. While not suggesting that managers should dispense dating advice or recommendations on parenting, acknowledging employees as broader entities than simply someone who shows up in the building at 9 AM five days a week makes it easier to create synergies and workflows that enable them to be their most productive self.
Focus on feedback
Feedback can be a great driver of change, helping people to realize areas of their professional selves they should work on. However, it’s always important to let everyone know that feedback is an opportunity to grow, rather than a personal attack. This also requires a tactful approach from the manager, and one-to-one meetings should feature solid examples and positive reinforcement to avoid leaving the team member feeling that you have a vendetta against them.
Coaching and other leadership skills require planning and focus, elements of a manager’s function that can be detracted from by heavy workloads. Fortunately, project management software is now enabling managers to minimize non-essential tasks and focus on delivering value through their leadership skills. To find out how Clarizen can help you to be the manager (or coach) you want to be, talk to our team today.