What Great Leaders Do To Coach and Develop Others

Conceptual image of business growth and development

Developing people is an art and a skill that’s essential in leadership. However, thousands of professionals worldwide have leadership titles but do very little to help others grow. Then there is a segment of those with a title who not only measure their success based on their short-term results, but also on their legacy of helping other people achieve their potential. 

According to Gallup, 87% of millennials say professional growth and development opportunities are a top priority. If the lasting impact of helping someone become a better version of themselves wasn’t enough, attracting and retaining employees is also a byproduct of development.

Dr. Will Sparks, the author of Actualized Leadership, told me in an episode of the Follow My Lead Podcast, “If leaders reframe their job to be around the development of their team as opposed to managing every outcome to their definition of perfection, it will have a profound impact on their success and on the lives of their people.”

If there is one thing I’ve learned from people like Dr. Sparks and studying great leaders throughout my career, it’s that people’s development is always high on their priority list. They are constantly looking for opportunities to teach, coach, mold, and shape the people they get the chance to lead.  

Great leaders are constantly coaching and developing the people put in their path.

The Part of Development Not Talked About Enough

There are very few secrets when it comes to leadership. However, one thing isn’t talked about enough when it comes to development that seemingly only the best leaders grasp. 

Personal development is a choice each one of us makes, and under no circumstance can a leader make that choice for someone else. Sure, they can host a workshop or invest in a training program, but they can’t claim someone else’s development outcome. 

Great leaders know they can’t claim the outcome for someone else.

Easy to write, difficult in practice because if you care about people and their development, you want nothing more than for them to be successful. 

Since you have gotten this far, I will assume you want to get better at developing talent. Here are three ways you can help grow your people right now:

1. Coach Them Daily

One of the ways a leader separates themselves from being a manager is by coaching their people daily. A coach, by definition, is one who trains and instructs. Coaching comes from the word “carriage,” meaning to take someone from point A to point B. The late great John Whitmore took the formal definition even further, saying:

“Coaching is unlocking people’s potential and helping them learn rather than teaching them.”https://www.linkedin.com/embed/feed/update/urn:li:ugcPost:6743214540462284800?compact=1

If you are going to help your people develop, you must play the role of coach. While outside professional or executive coaches can help provide tremendous perspective, they can’t coach daily. If you lead a team, it’s your responsibility to make coaching your people a priority daily. The reason is simple:

Coaching unlocks potential and elevates performance. 

I have written before about coaching strategies for people at different levels of development, but know listening and asking great questions is at the center of modern coaching. 

2. Always Look for Things Causing Interference

There have been many seminal thinkers and significant books that advanced the world of coaching and development. One of those is Tim Gallwey and his book, The Inner Game of Tennis. According to Gallwey, our greatness already exists inside of us. We reach our full potential by subtraction of the interferences that degrade our inherent brilliance. He positioned a powerful equation: 

Performance = Potential – Interference 

A fantastic way to develop your people is to look for things causing continuous interference. Sometimes this might be an internal process or procedure, or other times it might be a mental belief holding them back. Either way, part of your job is to listen for interference or observe where it might be coming from and work to remove it. 

3. Challenge Them With Opportunities

If you settle for the same output or effort people give on a day in, day out basis, there won’t be a lot of growth happening. You must challenge people because when you challenge others to raise their game, you show them you see more in them than they see in themselves. 

Challenging people is crucial because it’s human nature to only stretch ourselves to the point where we feel discomfort. Often it takes someone challenging us to go further or reach higher for it to become a reality.

Here is the key; having a solid relationship and a strong bond of mutual trust is critical for you to challenge others to get a positive response. If and when this foundation is in place, I want you to remember these four words.

Go before you are ready

Part of your responsibility as a leader is to provide your team with opportunities to go before they are ready. If you are growing and developing your people, you should be having them doing things before they are ready.  

Closing

Something fascinating happens when you develop others. Not only will talented people meet their full potential, but you will attract like-minded and equally talented people who want to be a part of your team or organization.  

As I wrote a couple of weeks ago, “Your leadership is temporary, your impact is lasting.” Whether your development efforts others show up on the short term results or not, know you are making a lasting impact on people. 

Coaching for Excellence Workshop: The development of your coaching skills and relying on a coaching framework will make a tremendous difference in helping your coach and develop others. Join John on January 20th for the next live Coaching for Excellence Workshop from 12-1 PM EST. Sign up today and get the 2021 Leadership Plan for free today!

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About the Author: John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a leadership development company helping executives and managers to lead their best. He was named one of LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Management & Workplace. John is also the author of Building the Best: 8 Proven Leadership Principles to Elevate Others to Success. You can follow him on Instagram @johngeades.

The Simple Way to Tell If You’re a Leader or Manager

Conventional thinking would have you believe you need a title to be considered a leader. Conventional thinking is wrong. A title doesn’t make a leader; your actions do.  

In my book, Building the Best, I define a leader as:

“Someone whose actions inspire, empower, and serve in order to elevate others.”

People who live out this definition don’t wait for a title — and acting this way isn’t reserved for the select few. All you have to do is make the choice to lead, because when your actions inspire, empower, and serve others, not only will the performance of the people increase, your own performance will too.  

There’s a substantial difference between the title of “manager” and the actions of a leader; one is vastly more important than the other in today’s business environment. Therein is why many of the primary roles of a manager can be or will be automated and replaced by technology over time. On the other hand, there has never been a more important time in our history to be a leader.

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Here is the problem. Most people lack the self-awareness to know whether they’re a leader or a manager, either because their team doesn’t tell them or they choose not to believe when the clues should be obvious.  

One Simple Way to Tell

There are powerful tools and strategies that can be used to improve self-awareness, like a 360° assessment or interviews with team members. While those are powerful and effective methods, there is a simple way that can expose the answer much quicker.  

What would be your team members’ answer if asked the question, “Do you love the person you work for?”  

If you want the answer to this question to be a resounding “yes,” what’s required, is for you to choose to lead by making decisions that contribute to their long term success and wellbeing.   Instead of making it complicated, there are a few small tactical ideas to help:

1. Make a “To Be” List

If you are like most professionals you make “to-do” lists each day to ensure you get the right tasks accomplished. While there is nothing wrong with these lists, there is a different kind of list I want you to make.  

During a recent interview with hall of fame speaker Simon T Bailey, he talked about the idea of creating a “to-be” lists for any manager struggling to lead. The purpose of “to-be” list is to remind you to live out the wise words of Grace Murray Hopper, “you manage things; you lead people.”

In order to create a “to be” list, open Evernote, or grab a piece of paper and write down the following and then challenge yourself to accomplish them:

  • I want to connect with my team today instead of communicating
  • I want to listen instead of having selective hearing
  • I want to be present in every interaction
  • I want to serve my team the best way possible

2. Challenge Them

The first great leader I ever worked for did something unusual that made me love working for him. He constantly challenged me. He knew I was capable of more than I was accomplishing at the time. By challenging me to raise my game, he showed me he cared about me. 

Challenging people is so important because it’s human nature to only stretch ourselves to the point where we feel discomfort. Often it takes someone challenging us to go further or reach higher for it to become a reality. 

Here is the key, having solid relationships and a strong bond of mutual trust is critical for you to challenge them in order to get a positive response. 

If you love your people, then don’t be afraid to challenge them. Eventually, they will love you back for it.

3. Practice Growth 20

I have written and often speak about Growth20, which is committing to 20 minutes a day to grow your mind and skills. In an interview, Simon T. Bailey described exactly why this is so important from a leadership perspective. 

Closing

Getting in the habit of making a “to-be” list, challenging your team, and practicing Growth 20 won’t be easy. In fact, it will be hard. But without hard work, nothing thrives. 

You’re in your position to lead and not manage. It’s my hope by implementing some of these ideas when I ask your team, “do you love the person you work for?” their answer would be a resounding “yes.”

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About the Author: John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a leadership development company helping improve the performance of struggling managers. He was named one of LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Management & Workplace. John is also the author of  Building the Best: 8 Proven Leadership Principles to Elevate Others to Success. You follow him on Instagram @johngeades.

The Unconventional Way Great Leaders Show Their People They Care

We were at the point in the workshop when participants begin feeling uncomfortable. One participant raised his hand and stated, “John, call me a little old school, but I refuse to know my people on a personal level or treat them anything like my family because the day might come when I have to let them go. I don’t want to make it awkward or deal with the feelings of having to let go of someone I care a lot about.”

While on the surface, his logic made sense, he couldn’t have been more wrong. The best leaders build trust with their people. Part of that trust is knowing they are cared for and loved by their boss. Yes, I used the word love, but not in any HR violation kind of way. Love is a component to elevate other people which is critical to be a successful leader today. I define love in Building the Best as “to contribute to someone’s long-term success and well being.”

Don’t just take my word for it. Researchers at the University of Berkley studied what motivates productivity in professionals. When people felt recognized for the work they did, they were 23% more effective and productive. But what’s even more astonishing is that when people felt valued and cared for, their productivity and effectiveness experienced a 43% increase. While recognition is essential, there is an additional 20% jump by in performance by showing your people you care for them. 

How to Show You Care

For your team to understand how much you care about them, you must reject the notion that words hold great power. In this case, talk is cheap. Your power comes from your actions. These actions can come in two fairly obvious forms:   

Make time. Like all great relationships, the only way to build them is by dedicating time. A mentor of mine told me, “Kids spell love T-I-M-E.” The same is true in showing your team you care about them. While the amount of time can help, it’s not always about the length of time you spend but choosing to be being present during the time together. It could be as simple as a text message between meetings or putting your phone away during lunch together.  

Know Them On a Personal Level. As the participant in my workshop, you might be uncomfortable with this one. The time to get comfortable with it is now. It isn’t complicated, and it also doesn’t mean you have to be friends. Simply ask questions about a person’s journey, experiences, challenges, and career aspirations. When they talk, LISTEN. Recalling the details of your conversations with them proves you listened and care about them. 

Pro Tip: If you have a larger team, create a spreadsheet to record the names of their significant other, hobbies, interests, passions, favorite things, and dreams of the individuals on your team. Keep it updated and handy, so you can be in tune with things going on in their life inside and outside of work. 

The Less Obvious Way to Show You Care

One of my first professional jobs was working for my dad. While those years were rocky, he did something with me constantly that showed how much he cared. He challenged me. 

While his methods for challenging me could be argued, I had little doubt he cared about me because he knew I was capable of more. By challenging me to raise my game, he showed me he cared (even if I didn’t realize that’s what it was at the time.)

Challenging people is so important because it’s human nature to only stretch ourselves to the point where we feel discomfort. Often it takes someone challenging us to go further or reach higher for it to become a reality. 

Here is the key, having solid relationships and a strong bond of mutual trust is critical for you to challenge them in order to get a positive response. Below are a few of my favorite times or places to challenge someone on your team to show you care:

  • Their preparation for a big event or meeting
  • Their effort in developing their skills
  • Their focus during a critical time
  • Their ability to think more creatively and innovatively

If you care about your people, then don’t be afraid to challenge them lovingly. 

What are the best ways you have been challenged, or how to do you challenge your people to show them you care?  

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About the Author: John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a leadership development company that exists to turn managers into leaders and create healthier places to work. He is currently booking events and speaking engagements for 2020. John was named one of LinkedIn’s 2017 Top Voices in Management & Workplace and was awarded the 2017 Readership Award by Training Industry.com. John is also the host of the “Follow My Lead” Podcast, a show that transfers stories and best practices from today’s leaders to the leaders of tomorrow. You follow him on Instagram @johngeades.