Leadership and Coaching: The Key to a Boss’ Success



Have you ever experienced feeling uneasy after assigning an important job to your people? The uncertainty of whether they could do fulfil your expectations of the job won’t stop haunting you. After assigning the job, you obtained the confirmation that they understood your instructions by listening to them describe in detail what you just told. Okay, great. They have a clear idea of what you need. One worry, answered. Now you have to worry about your people’s execution of the job. Of course some of them will do their job with no problem at all; but how about the ones that sometimes don’t, or even forget to do what they’re supposed to? Clearly, it is a threat to have people like the latter in your business. Who is to be blamed – you or your people?
 
The above scenario is actually pretty common in any business. Coming to think about it, is it the boss’ fault for not knowing how to lead people? Or is it the employees’ problem for not knowing how to follow? Problems remain unsolved in numerous meetings, causing time and money to be wasted for nothing. Different people would have different opinions on this issue. Perspectives. Some may say it’s the boss’ fault, some may say it’s the employees’ fault. To me, I always believe that having a good follower begins with a good leader. In other words, the boss’ leadership method may be ineffective, resulting in such problems.
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Of course, you, being a boss, already know that leadership is a very important skill you must possess. You try your best to be a good leader. You take initiative to learn about leadership via various sources such as books, articles, and online videos. But you have one big problem: you do not know how to use the knowledge to lead your people. What if I told you having good leadership itself is not enough to be able to lead your people?  
David had a friend who invited him to join a car trading business. His friend convinced him that the business could guarantee a very bright future for them in terms of money as it is highly profitable. However, there was a catch: David and his friend needed to pump in a huge amount of money to re-start up the business. David agreed with his friend’s proposal as providing such a big capital is not his problem. Once he joined the business, David noticed a flaw in the management of the company. David sensed that the CEO did not know how to lead his teams. A lot of time was wasted on meetings because the team does not do things as per instructed by the CEO, resulting in David needing to step in. All David saw was a problem in the CEO’s leadership. The goals of the CEO and the employees were not aligned altogether.

As a shareholder, David wanted nothing but the best for the company and not getting himself stuck in business meetings solving the company’s operations issues. Thus, he hired a CFO to implement some changes in the leadership method of the CEO. The CFO was responsible for following up with all the meeting materials and employees in the company to finalise what they should do during their meeting sessions. This was to identify areas the CEO went wrong and provide a solution to the problem.
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To be a charismatic boss, you must have good leadership skills. At the same time, you must be able to coach your people. What is the link between these three elements? A leader may be a coach, and a coach may be a leader, but a leader and a coach may not be a boss. Anyhow, the most important point is that as a boss, you need to be both a leader and a coach.

How would you define ‘leadership’ from your perspective? Who is responsible to be a leader? Based on Simon Sinek, leadership is not specifically the responsibility of people in a top-level management; leadership is everyone’s responsibility. It is a practicable and learnable skill that gives everyone the ability to be a leader. To be a good, strong leader, all it takes is consistency to keep practicing. He also stated that leaders are not responsible for the job, but they are responsible for the people that should be in charge of the job. Leaders must know when and how to take risks for the benefit of everyone.

As a boss is one who is in charge of an organisation and is the sole decision-maker in the company. This is why bosses need to know how to be a good leader. In combination with leadership, bosses must know how to teach, train, mentor and provide counselling to their people in order to unlock their people’s maximum potential – a simpler process to all that called coaching.
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To help you in leading and coaching your people, you could utilise the ‘Leadership Coaching Questions: 7-Element Model’, also known as ‘AGOWAL’, accredited by International Coach Federation. This approach consists of seven key areas, each with sub questions you can ask your people (the coachee) in order to get a better understanding of their mindset in relation to their job.

Leadership Coaching Questions: 7-Element Model (AGOWAL)

Awareness 

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Create an awareness of the coachee towards the subject so that you could understand what their perceptions and beliefs are. 
- What would you like to explore today?
- In what context would you like to do the coaching today?
- What is in your mind?
- Anything would you like to clear from your mind so you will be fully present today?

Goals (SMART)

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A SMART goal vision is determined to ensure there is a route towards progress.
- What is the goal outcome of this coaching session today?
- If anything was possible, out of those options what is the best for you?
- If you had a magic wand, out of those options what is the best for you?

Obstacles

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Make your coachee think through the challenges they are facing that may be an obstacle towards achieving the goals. 
- What obstacles/challenges are you facing?
- What is preventing you, holding you back and what are you concerned about?
- What fear do you have? What are you afraid of?
- What could derail your progress?

Opportunity

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Let your coachee identify the opportunities that could help in achieving the goals. 
- What opportunities do you have with this goal?
- What approach would your role model choose?
- Pros and cons of his/her approach?
- What could make things easier?
- Who could help you?
- Who do you need to talk with?

Way Forward

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Guide your coachee to move forward on ways he/she can achieve their goals. This is to ensure your coachee knows how and what they are trying to achieve in the end. 
- Now you know the obstacles and opportunities of your goal, what do you design to do to achieve your goal?
- State clearly what are the responsibilities, timelines, progress indicators, and milestones?
- Challenge your coachee if the plan is not effective, realistic, or ambitious enough.

Actions

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The coachee performs the required actions as per determined above. 
- What actions are you going to take before the next session?
- By when will you achieve these actions?
- What are your concerned obstacles that you have in taking the action?
- What opportunities do you have to overcome the concerns?
- How will you keep yourself accountable? For example, daily report, personal journal, sending emails?
- What extra resources do you need to achieve those actions?
- What extra learning will you do? For example, NLP Anthony Robbins’ Book, DVD?

Lessons Learnt

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A feedback session to let you and your coachee understand together the failure and successes of the whole action plan. 
- What did you learn about yourself, situations, and others? 
- Invite your coachee to memorise the lessons learnt, and identify where else to apply them.
- Celebrating the achievement is always a good idea.

The AGOWAL model may seem like a tedious process to put into practice to lead and coach your people. You may be interested to implement this model but you plan not to depend 100% on the model. Well, from my experience, I have always been implementing this model without skipping a single element. I tried a number of times to experiment the effect of the model by skipping one or two elements and let me tell you, the effective leadership effect cannot be achieved if you do so. So we are in lockdown of COVID-19 Pandemic, you may feel awkward to ask a bunch of questions when social distancing. AGOWAL works even better for me with 3 rules apply no matter meeting or coaching. 1st rule is to set the tone for turning the camera on to talk eye to eye. 2nd be conscious that both parties environment sense no disturbance. 3rd pay attention to detail with your sensory acuity, rephase what had been said for clarity. You will eventually get used to it as long as both parties started by respect time and space.

The AGOWAL model was also taught by the CFO to the CEO of David’s company. The CEO put this into practice in their meetings. Positively, this model has helped the CEO save a significant amount of time spent in meetings and the AGOWAL model was proven to be effective. David was glad that he hired the CFO as his help saved David a lot of unnecessary time. The company is now operating more efficiently and effectively, and is moving closer towards bringing the business to the next level.

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