A leader is an individual… who significantly affects the thoughts, feelings, and/or behaviors of a significant number of individuals.
Why is coaching so important?
Coaching is a set of conversations which create changes from “Current Reality” to “Desired Future”. The “5-Cs” coaching flow goes hand-in-hand with the 5-stage of reactions to changes.
The 5-Cs coaching model “Connect Now, Clarify Why, Create New, Choose What, Commit & Go” is well positioned and built into the 5-stage or cycle of reaction to changes “Shock, Reaction, Acceptance, Action, Commitment.
2.2.1 Stage 1 – Shock & Connect Now
The common mistake that leaders usually make in stage 1 is to underestimate the importance of human connection and always rush into process or actions. A study of 250 executives in the 1970s found that most people felt their work demanded “their hands but not their hearts.” Many said they feared that feeling empathy or compassion for those they worked with would put them in conflict with their organizational goals. (P.170, “Emotional Intelligence”) However, in view of the radical revolution of corporations in the 21st century, a corresponding transformation of the emotional landscape has become a new trend around the world. The competitive reality requires business leaders to have a higher level of emotional intelligence and interpersonal skills, i.e. being attuned to the feelings of those they deal with, particularly in the time of changes.
Similar to a grief reaction, people need some time to address the reality of what has just occurred. Thus, in this stage, coaching leaders shall stay connected with the affected employees and take some time to conduct individual interviews to help them figure out personal strategies for dealing with changes. It must be their own strategies, not the leaders’. Individuals shall also be given opportunities and time to express and vent their concerns. The coaching leader shall act more like a listener, rather than interrupt the conversation frequently by restating the company line.
2.2.2 Stage 2 – Reaction & Clarify Why
In the 2nd stage, repetitive clarifications, communications as well as perception confirmations are very important. Any significant transformation creates “people” issues. New leaders will be assigned to step up; jobs will be changed; new skills and capabilities need to be developed; and consequently, employees will feel uncertain and resistant. Dealing with these issues on a reactive, or “just getting a job done” basis puts speed, morale, and results at risk.
Coaching leaders can help people to be aware of choices and options they have, so as to ensure that they have thought through the consequences of those alternatives. If the change involves a loss, coaching leaders can help people to identify what will or might cover that loss. Let them identify the results by themselves. Avoid the temptation to “rescue” them. Coaching leaders shall stay as open and honest as they can and communicate as much information as possible and as regularly as possible. However, coaching leaders shall avoid setting unrealistic or over-optimistic expectations for employees.
To summarize, the “Why” clarification can help people identify the focus/topic, its importance, current situation in relation to the focus/topic, & the intention behind it. And coaching is all about discovery, learning and changing. This naturally leads to the next step.
2.2.3 Stage 3 – Acceptance & Create New
Now it is the time for people to accept that the changes have indeed taken place and that the old ways are in fact gone. “I suppose if we have to deal with this, we might as well get on with it”. In this stage, people begin to show willingness of looking for actual methods for implement and taking the change process forward. “How do we actually go forward from here?”
Coaching leaders shall now help people develop an understanding that “our thoughts” create “our reality” and that “our thoughts” will actually drive our response to different situations. Negative thinking really weakens the creativity, problem-solving abilities and immune systems. Therefore, it is critical to think of all the possibilities of positive outcomes, rather than dwelling on the negative feelings and problems. A coach shall set the focus/topic in an appropriate depth, offer feedbacks and observations, generate insights through dialogues, explore alternative perspectives and come out with ideas and new options together.
This is where an “a-ha” moment is created and a shift in perspective is made. Everyone has a particular way of thinking. People usually tend to follow their own fixed thinking mode, while sometimes they might go into a dead-ended road. But during coaching conversations, people will have a chance to look at things from a different angle and finally find the road to discover new things.