Dua, Samer. TALKING LEADERSHIP. PuneMirror. Web . 07 February 2018

Leaders and managers must learn the leadership conversational skills that are required to generate results. The myths about leadership-coaching conversations are busted here

One key role of a leader is to coach. It is a myth that only professional coaches do coaching. One of the key roles of leaders and managers is to coach their team members and co-workers — they must ‘carry’ them to a different place of seeing the same situation, or to a new commitment.

It is through these leadership coaching conversations that leaders and managers enable their co-workers to take new actions and generate new results. The idea of coaching is not to just get the co-worker to do more, or just take more competent actions, but to generation ‘new’ actions for the sake of generating ‘new’ results, those that may not have been available to the coworker prior to the leadership coaching conversation.

There are a lot of myths around leadership-coaching conversations. Leadership conversations are an integral practice — I am still struggling to find one person who can do without these conversations. It’s like saying ‘I can live without looking at the mirror’. Only a person who lives without looking at the mirror, or is blind about his blindness, can state this. People who have been exposed to coaching want to, as often as possible, jump right back to ‘see’ what they cannot ‘see’ on their own — with the help of a coach.

Here are some myths: 

Myth: Coaching is a distinct profession, and leaders and managers are not coaches

Busting the Myth: Coaching is not only a profession, it’s a practice of having effective coaching conversations. For example, you may have seen a good parent working with their children on the latter’s creative pursuits, keeping them well behaved, and yet give them the freedom that the child needs. This parent is not a designated coach, yet has mastered coaching conversations with their children. There are several other parents you may have seen who struggle to engage effectively with their children.

So, clearly, all parents are not acting effectively as coaches (while many would like to believe they are); only those who have mastered the conversations, and have authority from their children, operate as coaches with their children.

Similarly, there are managers and leaders who have embodied the leadership-coaching conversations listed in this book (whether they know this or not is a different thing altogether). In the eyes of their coworkers, these leaders and managers may be coaches.

If you want to be a successful leader or a manager, you need to embody these leadership-coaching conversations. You need to be a master in these conversational domains listed in this book. It does not matter what your title is.

Myth: ‘As a leader or a manager, I don’t have the time to coach!’

Busting the Myth: It is amazing how often I hear this statement. The question I ask such leaders or managers, ‘Is it your job to generate results for your organization with the help of teams?’ If the answer is yes, I tell them they have no choice – they need to either learn these conversational domains, or pay the price. (And the price is that they do not succeed as much as they’d hoped, had they known and practised these simple conversational domains.)

To state ‘I don’t have time to coach my co-workers’, in my assessment, is akin to stating ‘I have no time to generate results that matter or do my job as a leader or a manager’.

Myth: ‘As a leader or a manager, I am a coach by default.’

Busting the Myth: Not at the least. ‘Coach’ is not simply a title; to be a coach you need to be in the ‘practice’ of having leadershipcoaching conversations. As a leader or a manager, if you practise these well and have authority from your co-workers, only then are you a coach. Yes, as a manager, you certainly are a promise of being a coach; however, you need to actively practise the leadership-coaching conversational domains listed in this book to fulfil your promise of being a coach.

Myth: ‘Authority is a function of seniority. By virtue of being the manager, I have authority over my co-workers.’

Busting the Myth: Authority is not a function of seniority. To have authority over someone means to have a certain degree of power over that person. And in this case, power would mean that that person grants you the right to present choices to them to make a decision, or in certain cases, even exercise choice on their behalf. Just because you are senior to a particular individual does not, by any means, signify that he or she has granted you that power. This power needs to be earned. Which is why many seniors (often blindly) grant authority to even people who are junior to them in hierarchy.

Myth: ‘I don’t have the time for new practices.’

Busting the Myth: Richard Strozzi Heckler in The Leadership Dojo makes the claim ‘you are your practices’. Many of us are blind to our subconscious practices that we repeat without concious choice. And it is these practices that lead us to our results (often, these results are not our desired results). To say that ‘you do not have the time to adopt new practices’ is to say that ‘you do not have the time to generate results that matter to you in your life’. This also connects to people saying ‘I don’t have time for learning’, and this is because for them, learning is academic and not related to work and results.

Leaders choose their practices because they understand the power of these practices. We embody new ways of doing things only through practices.

Now, if you say that the practices listed in this book do not resonate with you, that would be an altogether different proposition to consider. As expected, some practices will resonate with some, and some other practices with others. Try out the practices to see which ones work for you.

Myth: ‘All my co-workers are my coaches.’

Busting the Myth: There is nothing inherently wrong with this statement. You could have the authority from all your co-workers to coach them, but you can’t take this authority as a given. To be effective in your coaching conversations would mean that you have authority from each of your co-workers. That may or may not be true. And assuming that may just be the case, you can even have your seniors under your coaching — not formally — but you could have leadership coaching conversations with them, and support them in generating results that matter to them.

Myth: To coach someone means there is something wrong with that person

Busting the Myth: This myth is like saying that mirrors are only for physically dirty looking people; clean and well-kempt people need not look at the mirror.

It’s worthwhile to note that the latter use a mirror to ensure that they are clean and well kempt. Most people check the mirror in the morning after a shower before they set out for their day to see if they are ready, physically, in terms of their look for the day. That is the time, perhaps, they are the cleanest in the day. And yet they see the mirror to see how they can look better.

Similarly, the higher in seniority or more successful you are, the more you need a coach to support you. After all, as a senior in the organization, the way you see and the way you act impacts many people. Top performers in the world have coaches — professional athletes, public figures, musicians and leaders.

► Excerpted with permission from Sameer Dua’s Become: The 5 Critical Conversational Practices that Shift ‘Who You Be’ as a Leader, published by Harper Business. Sameer Dua will be in conversation with Bob Dunham, founder of Institute for Generative Leadership, USA, today at Crossword, Aundh at 6 pm.