I talk with leaders nearly every day, and often I hear strains of angst and consternation about problems with their teams and team members. There is nothing wrong with identifying problems or issues. Unfortunately, too often after describing a problem, the conversation shifts to blame, frustration, and surrender. When we feel as if there is nothing we can do, we will do nothing. This is a dangerous place for a leader to be – and this danger must be avoided.
The situations that I am thinking of all boil down to the behaviors of other people. The assumption underlying the angst can be summarized by one foundational statement: There’s nothing I can do – I can’t control them. This statement is true as far as it goes; but if that is as far as it goes, there is little chance for change – by the coach or by those they wish would change.
If you want to lead others successfully, you must have a different belief; one that allows you to coach others rather than mentally throw up your hands in frustration or disgust: I know I can’t control someone else, but I might be able to influence them. When we shift from a “control” to an “influence” mindset, we have a chance to make a difference, a chance to influence change, and a chance achieve coaching success.
Perhaps even more importantly, until we correctly understand that as leaders and coaches we are in the influence business, we don’t even see that that we can coach.
Here are some of the statements I hear that prompted me to write this article:
- The team doesn’t care about …
- They are all the same.
- Those millennials don’t have the right work ethic.
- Where’s the loyalty?
- I can’t get them to work.
All of these statements have an external focus. Do you hear it? All of them focus on “them.” All of them imply the belief that “there’s nothing I can do.”
Yet all these statements (and a hundred more I could share) suggest to me an opportunity to coach. Whenever others aren’t delivering what is required in the workplace, the solution is coaching.
Coaching isn’t about making someone do something, it is about helping them decide to do it themselves and providing ways to help them do it successfully.
When you think about all of these from a place of influence you realize some things:
- They might be difficult to change.
- Influence is your only option.
- If the behavior matters, it is your responsibility as a leader to coach to these behaviors.
- You might not succeed, but success is too important not to try.
Coaching success starts with an understanding that coaches influence, not control. Once we understand and believe that, we will take action and have the chance to make a difference for others. If we don’t, nothing will change except our frustration level.
If you want build your coaching skills and improve your odds in influencing others, join me for our Coaching with Confidence Workshop.