5 Real Examples of Coaching-Based Leadership

We recently conducted interviews with participants who had completed Cylient’s Coaching in the Moment workshop, and in some cases, our Feedback in the Moment workshop as well. In these interviews, we asked: “What are you doing differently in the workplace after learning coaching-based leadership skills?” And our clients shared stories of conversations they’ve had where they integrated coaching approaches into day-to-day conversations in ways that positively impacted themselves and others. Here are five examples of how people made change happen as a result using their coaching-based leadership skills.

As a note, for confidentiality reasons, the names of the participants have been changed.

1. “In the Moment” Coaching Skills Help Resolve Interpersonal Conflict.

Matthew, a senior manager, had two direct reports that didn’t get along. In each individual one-on-one meeting with Matthew, they would complain about each other. After taking the Coaching in the Moment workshop, Matthew decided to ask each of them individually some insightful questions, like: “If you were him, what would you need? How would you feel? Is this problem really the other person’s fault?” Both people came to realize on their own that a lot of their issues with the other person stemmed from not understanding the full situation—either background information was left out, or other issues factored in to the situation. Instead of offering advice or taking sides, Matthew simply facilitated the conversation and listened to them intently. As a result, the two managers resolved their differences and established a more resilient working relationship. Matthew noted that before, the personality conflict between these two managers was affecting entire departments, and now, the departments are working together with increased teamwork all around.

2. Coaching in the Moment Illuminates Problems People Can’t See.

Brenda, a director, had a direct report with really high potential who kept making simple mistakes in his work—things his other team members knew not to do. Brenda knew she had to address this situation, but she wasn’t quite sure how to go about it.

This person was going to school full-time while also working the night shift, so Brenda started the conversation with: “How are you? How’s school going?” This helped her to better understand what might be influencing his performance.  Then she said: “Walk me through what happened with this mistake.” During that conversation, Brenda found out that he was struggling balancing school and work, and he also had other stresses on his mind. As a result of that conversation, the employee decided it would be best for the company if he worked part-time while going to school. This ensured that he would still have a career path at the company after his schooling and helped the company stay on track with its goals.

Brenda attributed the in-depth conversation to helping illuminate how overwhelmed he really was. That was something he hadn’t fully appreciated before. Brenda said she stayed curious to try and get to a better solution for everyone. Now, he knows that Brenda wants what’s best for him, and there’s trust built between them. Brenda said it was helpful for her confidence, too: “Conversations like this one make me realize that I’m doing something worthwhile and being a positive influence in someone’s life.”

3. Coaching Approaches Help People Solve Their Own Issues.

Nate is a vice president that has meetings with an “interrupter” who often talks over people during discussions. Nate decided to use his coaching skills to address this issue with the person. He began by using his curiosity to better understand what might be motivating this person to continue interrupting others, even when he knew it might be negatively impacting him. Nate asked questions like, “Do you notice when you do this? Tell me what your thoughts are when you do this. Why is that comment important to you?” As a result of this conversation, Nate sensed that it was very important to this person to feel like he is respected, and his interrupting was how he tried to earn the respect of others.

Nate used coaching approaches to share his observation as a possibility to see if pointing towards the dynamic would help the person become aware that his strategy wasn’t working out as well as he thought it was. Nate shared that, “It sounds to me like it’s important for you to be respected by others. Do you see that sometimes when you’re fighting for respect, you may lose respect?” He saw the “light bulb” go off. Nate felt that taking a coaching approach to the situation helped this person to resolve the issue on his own, which was much more effective than what Nate would have done in the past, when he would have punished the person or told him what to do. Since then, people around this individual are more willing to speak up, and he’s been less interruptive in meetings.

4. Coaching Conversations Can Help Build Stronger Relationships with Clients.

Kevin, a project manager, was working on a project with a client. The client had a question concerning one factor of the project. Rather than telling them the answer, which in Kevin’s mind, was, “Because it’s industry practice,” Kevin decided to have a coaching conversation with them. He walked through the situation, explaining his worldview and asking questions to learn about the client’s worldview. As a result, Kevin realized that the client was more concerned with budget than he originally anticipated, which was why the client raised the issue. This awareness helped Kevin identify with the client and have an authentic conversation about the project and its goals, including a more thorough explanation of his original decision.

This shared understanding has helped Kevin and his client establish a better, more trusting working relationship that continued through that project and the projects that followed.

5. Coaching in the Moment Contributes to Lower Absenteeism.

Victoria had an employee who was not attending work regularly. After this happened a few times, she decided to use her coaching skills to try to discover what was at the heart of this issue. Using questions like: “What’s your perspective on the situation? How does work play into your family life?” Victoria gained a better understanding of the root issue and, in the process, was able to help the person understand how being absent from work was not just limiting her professional life, but also impacting her family life.

Victoria had initially dreaded having this conversation. She was relieved to discover that taking a coaching approach made the conversation much more comfortable than she anticipated—and more impactful. When the person began to consistently show up for work (at the time, she hadn’t missed a day in six months!), it greatly improved the overall team environment because people weren’t as frustrated with the team member. This one conversation had a positive impact on the whole team.

Share Your Story

If you’ve been through Coaching in the Moment and would like to share your story, please email info@cylient.com and tell us how you’ve used your coaching capabilities to create positive change.

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