Skill 07 – Coach Your Team
The Complete List of Essential Leadership Habits for New Managers, Team Leaders, and Change Agents to Lead with Confidence
Great leaders are great coaches.
While stuck leaders focus on their performance, great leaders understand that their effectiveness expands to include the performance of their team.
The habits in this area are about growing and developing others into great leaders.
Let’s start coaching your team …
Have I missed a habit? Do you have something to add?
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Habit 3 - The Greatest Gift
Our people will rise to our level of expectations.
The greatest gift that you can give another person is to believe in them.
There’s something magical that happens when we lower our shields, let go of negative judgements, and expect the best from every member of our team.
When we believe in someone, we are holding them to a higher standard than what they think they are capable of achieving.
If our expectations are low or non-existent, our team will be filled with uncertainty and drift aimlessly.
When our expectations are high, our people will rise to the challenge.
Habit 33 - Make The Shift
Your effectiveness as a leader is measured by the results of the people around you.
Stuck leaders focus on doing the work themselves.
Great leaders focus on improving the results of the people around them.
One of the biggest mistakes that I see with newly promoted managers is that they continue to focus on doing the work that got them the promotion.
For example, the programmer that continues to code or call centre employee continues to answer calls.
While it’s great that you want to help out, remember that your effectiveness as a leader is measured by the results of your people.
Delegate as much as you can and focus on QII activities.
The sooner you make the shift from individual contributor to getting results through others, the better.
Habit 34 - Model The Way
“With great power comes great responsibility.”
Your people are watching your every move. They …
- Notice when you come into the office and when you leave.
- Get slightly anxious when you ask to meet with them.
- Will adjust their behaviour when you are around.
Don’t believe me?
Think about what happens when your boss is around. You …
- Notice when they come into the office and when they leave.
- Get slightly anxious when they ask to meet with you.
- You adjust your behaviour when they are around.
Most of us are unaware that we are even doing this.
The moment that you stepped into a management role, you were given a big red sign that says, “I can fire you!”
This gives you power, and with great power comes great responsibility.
Because of this unconscious ability to influence, your team will start to model your behaviour.
And if you are not careful, they will pick up all of your bad habits.
As a leader, it’s essential that you continue to develop the habits of great leaders!
It’s your job to model the way.
Habit 35 - Culture Matters
To develop your people, you need to set up the right conditions for them to thrive.
Luckily, Google discovered this when they set out to answer the question: “What makes a team effective?”
In order of importance, here’s what Google uncovered about effective teams …
- Psychological Safety: Team members feel safe to take risks and be vulnerable in front of each other.
- Dependability: Team members meet a high standard of quality and get things done on time.
- Structure & Clarity: Team members have clear roles, plans, and goals.
- Meaning: Work is personally important to team members.
- Impact: Team members believe that their work matters and creates change.
They discovered that it was less about who was on the team and more about how the team worked together.
Your job as an effective leader is to create an environment where you help each member of your team move from hesitant and stuck leaders to change leaders.
And the role of great leaders is to develop people leaders and create a culture that allows everyone to thrive.
Habit 48 - Define The Mission
Every tribe needs a mission.
A mission is an objective that represents the collective wishes of the team.
A quality mission will …
- Resolve a pain point, bottleneck, or problem.
- Be an expression of the purpose of each team member.
- Leverage everyone’s strengths.
- Be a stretch objective, yet achievable.
- Serve the economic engine of the company.
- Be exciting and memorable.
What’s the mission of your tribe?
And once you’ve defined the mission, determine your BHAG.
Habit 52 - What’s Your BHAG?
Built To Last by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras.
“A BHAG engages people – it reaches out and grabs them in the gut. It is a tangible, energizing, highly focused. People “get it” right away; it take little or no explanation.”
All teams should have goals.
But there’s a difference between regular goals and going all-in, and committing to a huge, daunting challenge.
A great example of this is happened on May 25, 1961, when President John F. Kennedy declared, “that this Nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before the decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to earth.”
BHAG stands for Big Hairy Audacious Goal and was introduced by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras in Built To Last.
Your BHAG should serve as a unifying focal point for effort, compel people to act, and foster team spirit.
When setting a BHAG for your team, make sure it …
- Is something everyone cares deeply about.
- Leverages people’s strengths – something you can be the best at.
- Adds value to the organization – serves the economic engine.
Get to know your people and work together to craft your BHAG.
[source] Built To Last by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras
[source] Good To Great by Jim collins
Habit 61 - Obsess About Performance
Great leaders obsess about performance.
Performance is a quantifiable measure of the value that your team provides to the organization.
Here are a few examples of quantifiable performance measures …
- Produce X number of widgets per week.
- Increase customer satisfaction rating by 8% this year.
- Reduce operating costs by 10% this quarter.
As a leader of people, your job is to …
1) Define the measure.
Determine a quantifiable measure for each major process or function that your team is accountable.
2) Raise the bar.
Work with your team to define an appropriate increase or decrease lead measure.
3) Bridge the gap.
Help your team close the gap between where they are now and the new target.
Habit 65 - Know Your People
Great leaders know their people.
Make it a point of knowing the following for each member of your team …
- Their story (what brought them here).
- Their purpose.
- Their strengths and weaknesses.
- Their 3 to 5-year goals.
- Their professional development plans.
- Details about their personal life (hobbies, name of spouse, ages of their kids, etc.).
Carve out time during your weekly one-on-one to get to know your people.
Habit 72 - Weekly One-on-Ones
A weekly one-on-one is a regularly scheduled 30-minute meeting where you meet individually with each member of your tribe.
One of the biggest mistakes that leaders do is to monopolize the one-on-ones.
This is not the time to push your agenda or to give negative feedback.
According to the Manager Tools Podcast, the weekly one-on-one, “Creates a space for your directs to come to you with things that are of interest to them.”
If you have six direct reports, you should have six half-hour repeating weekly meetings scheduled in your calendar.
The fact that these meetings are scheduled sends a single that they are important to you.
Here’s the agenda …
First 10 minutes.
The first part of the meeting is reserved for your directs.
This is their time to update you on what’s bugging them and to answer any questions they might have.
Note: If their update takes the entire meeting. So be it! That’s the purpose of the meeting.
Next 10 minutes.
The middle part of the meeting is for you.
This is the time to ask questions about specific projects not yet covered and anything else on your agenda.
Last 10 minutes.
Use the last part of the meeting to discuss the future.
This is a great space to talk about leadership development plans and upcoming projects.
The weekly one-on-one will go along way with building trust and getting to know your team.
For more details about weekly one-on-ones, I highly the Manager Tools podcast.
In their getting started section, they have a three-part series as well as a prep sheet.
[source] Manager Tools podcast
Habit 77 - Close The Gap
The primary focus of great leaders is the growth and development of their people.
Your job is to close the gap between where they are now and what they are capable.
Start by believing in your people.
Once you’ve established trust, assess their competence within The 7 Skills of Great Leaders and The 5 Stages of Great Leadership.
Here’s a template called The Great Leaders One-Page Learning Plan that you can use as a tool to coach your team.
Habit 81 - Don’t Treat Everyone The Same
Every person on your team has different abilities, motivations, strengths, and expectations.
As a leader, if you treat your high performers the same as your low performers, you are doing a disservice to both.
You need to give your high performers challenging, and interesting work or they will leave.
You need to provide a different level of support to your low performers or they with drown.
For each person on your team, your job is to …
Habit 85 - Take It Personally
I hate it when someone says to me, “don’t take it personally.”
It’s as if we are supposed to leave being human at home and show up to work as unfeeling robots.
While it may be the norm in toxic cultures or working for a bad boss to become “thick-skinned”, or worse yet “to sell our soul.”
It’s not the type of place where I want to work.
As leaders, how can we expect our people to go all-in when we “don’t take it personally.”
Committing to a companies vision requires us to take it personally.
Aligning with the values of an organization requires us to take it personally.
Creating a positive company culture requires us to take it personally.
If we want our people to really show up at work and give 110%, we need to connect with their minds as well as their hearts.
The only way to do this is to take it personally.
Habit 92 - Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
There’s an old marketing principle called The Rule of 7.
The Rule of 7 states that a customer needs to hear your message at least seven times before they’ll take action to buy your product or service.
How does this apply to leadership?
When it comes to effective communication, don’t expect to say things once and believe that everyone is on-board.
You need to repeat things again and again (at least seven times) before someone claims to have heard it once.
Just like a marketer needs to repeat their message, again and again, to convince a customer to buy, A leader needs to repeat their message again and again for their team to buy-in.
This is especially critical when communicating anything new.
Most teams have become desensitized to the “management fad of the month.”
This happens anytime a member of the management team goes away to a workshop and comes back all excited about implementing the latest fad.
In most cases, there’s a big push to implement this latest trend, and sure enough, within a few weeks, everything goes back to normal.
It can also be useful to use a variety of delivery methods.
For example, your message could be delivered via email or in-person, to a group or one-on-one, or with lots of detail or as a story.
So remember to be patient, use a variety of delivery methods, and be consistent with your message.
Habit 95 - Watch Your Wake
A few summers ago, I picked up my boating license.
One of the things I learned when getting my boating license was something called “watch your wake.”
In boating, your wake is the waves that spread out behind you as your boat moves through the water.
The faster you go, the larger the wake.
When you are close to shore or around other boats, you need to be aware of your wake.
The waves from your wake can capsize smaller boats and damage the docks of cottages along the shoreline.
It’s amazing how many boaters forget this simple rule.
They are more focused on going fast and getting to where they want to go, regardless of the damage left behind in their wake.
Have you figured out what this has to do with leadership?
We’ve all been impacted by the wake of a leader.
We’ve been either inspired or demotivated by their behaviour.
Can you think of a time, after speaking with a leader, when you came away inspired and motivated to contribute whatever you could to help the team succeed?
And I’m sure you’ve experienced (or can imagine) the tyrannical boss, more focused on achieving results than the negative impact they are making on yourself and the people around them.
Question to ponder … What’s the quality of your wake?
Habit 99 - Effective Feedback
It’s not uncommon for people to lose their way.
Your job as a leader is to help them get back on track.
You do this by practicing what Kim Scott calls Radial Candor in her book by the same name.
Kim has taken her experience from working at Google and then at Apple and has created an approach to giving effective feedback.
From Radial Candor by Kim Scott
“Radical Candor is a simple idea: to be a good boss, you have to Care Personally at the same time that you Challenge Directly. When you challenge without caring, it’s obnoxious aggression; when you care without challenging, it’s ruinous empathy. When you do neither, it’s manipulative insincerity.”
This combined approach of caring personally and challenging directly is at the heart of serving your tribe.
Here’s an excellent chart giving an overview of each type of feedback.
Let’s take a look at each one.
1) Obnoxious Aggression
Obnoxious aggression is when you provide criticism without taking the time to show that you care.
This is the type of feedback that criticizes to humiliate them rather than helping to improve (aka front-stabbing) or worse when you intentionally target another person’s vulnerabilities.
2) Manipulative Insincerity
Manipulative insincerity is when you don’t care enough about the person to challenge directly.
This is the type of feedback that is fake. When the person giving the feedback is more focused on being liked, looking to gain some sort of political advantage, or throw you under the bus (aka backstabbing).
3) Ruinous Empathy
Ruinous empathy is when you hold back your feedback because you don’t want to hurt the other person’s feelings.
This is probably the worst method since there is no feedback. Without timely feedback, nobody knows where they stand, and they don’t know how to improve.
4) Radical Candor
Radical candor is when you care personally and challenge directly.
This is the most effective type of feedback because it shows empathy and helps people improve.
NOTE: Radial candor only works when the other person understands that your efforts at caring personally and challenging directly are delivered in good faith.
This is why it’s so important to know your people.
[source] Radical Candor by Kim Scott
Habit 107 - Create Opportunities For Growth
Great leaders realize that as you encourage the growth and development of your people, at some point, they will grow beyond their current role, and will be looking for more challenging opportunities.
Here are a few suggestions …
1) Delegate Responsibilities
As you shift your focus to QII activities, look to delegate some of your responsibilities to your more senior people.
2) Growth Projects
All teams have processes or procedures that need to be improved. Assign these as learning projects to team members that want to prove themselves.
3) Cross Development
As part of your succession planning exercise, encourage your senior people to coach and mentor other team members.
4) Encourage Lateral Moves
When someone outgrows their current role, help them find other opportunities within the organization.
Habit 113 - Succession Planning
Great leaders realize that they will only have each team member for a limited amount of time.
While you want to do everything you can to encourage people to stay, turnover is inevitable.
Succession planning is the process of identifying and developing new members who can replace those that leave the team or organization.
Here are a few suggestions to create your succession plan …
1) Find Great Talent
Keep an eye out for great talent. Build relationships with potential hires from within and outside of the organization.
2) Leverage Team Leads
For each function or process, identify a team lead. The primary role of the team leader is to coach and mentor junior members of the team.
3) Make Yourself Obsolete
At some point, you will outgrow your role. As a leader, you should be mentoring potential replacements.
Habit 119 - Build Your Legacy
Your legacy as a leader is measured by the number of people you help progress along The 5 Stages of Great Leadership.
If you are at Stage 3 – The Change Leader, be an example of great leadership and mentor the junior members of your team.
Once you reach Stage 4 – The People Leader, your job is to help everyone on your team reach Stage 3.
And you know you’ve reached Stage 5 – The Great Leader, when you’ve coached and mentored others to reach Stage 4 and eventually Stage 5.
There’s nothing more satisfying than when someone you coached or mentored starts coaching others along the path to become a great leader.