In coaching, one of the fundamental beliefs we hold about leaders in organisations, is that, they are naturally creative, resourceful and whole. This means that leaders have the wisdom and ability to create anything they want in their lives, notably in the light of obstacles that comes in their way of getting their goal or desired outcome.
One of the common obstacles that leaders encounter is; they experience tremendous stress and frustration when their teams are not performing to the leaders’ expectations.
When this scenario happens, the coaches notice that the behaviour of the leaders differ. One group (eg. Group A) of the leaders overcome their obstacle by exerting their authority and enforcing their teams to deliver. They are commonly seen to be using harsh language on their teams. Some of these leaders are seen to be putting fear into their teams while others threaten the team that they will be terminated for failure to deliver.
Another group of leaders (Group B), find it suffocating to tolerate this amount of stress. Group B leaders manage their stress by becoming highly permissive, that is, they willingly tolerate a lower level of performance of their team. They will not seek out an active role in working out a solution with the team members, rather they prefer not to acknowledge this low level and hope the problem will be resolved by the team members themselves.
Both, Group A and Group B behaviour patterns are not acceptable to organisations. How does the coach manage to support these leaders to create awareness of themselves (self awareness) as well as create awareness of the impact of their behaviour on their team’s actions, learning and growth?
Case #1: Group A Leaders
Using the ICF Core competencies and methodology of asking deep probing questions, the coach was able to help the leader identify the root cause of his stress and frustration.
In this case, the leader identified that he expected his team member to get the delegated job done as directed by him and there should be no excuses as the team member was being paid a high salary for his role in the organization. Some of the values of the leader included; being accountable, learning on your own if you don’t know how to do it; and if the job is delegated to you, then just do it.
Using awareness of learning styles the coach enabled the leader to appreciate that the team member’s learning style and the leader’s learning style, differed. The leader had an independent learning style, where he will conduct his own research and get the job executed. On the contrary, his team member’s learning style was collaborative, where he needed to bounce ideas with another person, he needed to talk to them, discuss with others, before he learns and understands how to resolve his predicament.
Using the Skill-Will Matrix, the coach enabled the leader to identify and map out the location of where to place each team member on this matrix. It is critical that the leader has a pulse of what type of intervention each of his team members need, rather than use a one “one size fits all” approach. In this case, the individual team member was in the quadrant of “Support”. Hence to enable this team member to execute his action steps in which he was stuck in, the leader asked his team member what support he needed and asked him how he could help him get that support in his role as leader of his team.
Case #2: Group B Leaders
Again the coach used the ICF Core Competencies and enabled the leader to realize that he is avoiding the stressful scenario created within his team.
The coach supported the leader to identify new perspectives of the situation by raising the level of awareness of the impact of the leader’s actions. Once the leader was able to identify the root cause and appreciate the impact, he immediately became resourceful and creative in conjuring a few action steps to manage this situation, which included, sharing a personal story of how they as a human being managed such a stressful situation previously. This exhibited their vulnerability as well as enhanced their connectedness to their team.
Some key learnings from these two cases are:
- Via collaborative communications, the leaders identified the root cause of their stress and frustration levels. They reduced their stress levels by identifying the root cause, which may be in their blind-spot areas.
- Once they gained insights and learnings about their self-awareness, as well as the differing learning styles of their team members, they became resourceful.
- They also learnt the type of intervention a situational-leader should provide to his team members, as each individual team member needs different interventions to bring out their best.