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Coaching leadership:
cliché or a hard necessity?

It is very important to guide your employees and to enable them to develop themselves. Everyone agrees on that. But they are often empty words that yield little in reality.

Based on my hundreds of conversations with managers and the people who work for them, allow me to make this judgment. I've done numerous of formal interviews and exercises, such as the 360-degree evaluations throughout the years. But also many informal water-cooler chats in the corridors. And I certainly do not want to generalize, but a lot of managers are not even aware of this lacuna.

Some quotes I've heard over the years. I would even call them cries:. My boss does not listen, he interrupts me every time. He's a control freak. Here, they only think of micro-management. I never get constructive feedback. Never a pat on the back. My boss is good at counting and yelling, but for a really constructive conversation, I've been waiting for years. My boss is a typical narcissist, so full of himself. And I could go on like this for a while.

Using an inappropriate leadership style is obviously wrong. But being convinced that your own, inappropriate management style is the only right way, is really a risk to avoid. Because the consequences are major: demotivation, loss of top-talents, burn-outs, bore-outs ... One day, you will have to pay the price, always. People who drop out are a scourge for any business. No manager can compensate for that, regardless of his own knowledge, hard labor or skill. Growth can only be achieved by working together.

How do you really do as a leader? Herewith some test questions:
  1. How much time do you spend per year, per month, per week in conversations that really focus on coaching your employees and yourself? The basic principle here is the behavior of your employees and your own behavior. You listen and you ask open questions about the way of working. A general rule of thumb: at least one interview thoroughly prepared quarterly.
  2. Do you ask for sufficient feedback and feedforward (suggestions for improvement)? Create a short report with suggestions for immediate improvement. Caution! Less is more. Do not be overconfident and go step by step.
  3. How do you prepare for the interviews? Reserve enough time! This will avoid the conversation gets bogged down.
  4. What do you do after the interview? No empty promises. Doing is the message. Visible actions that you follow-up immediately. And above all, be open to change and do not get defensive.
And finally this. Not machines or processes, but people are our most precious resource. Delivering through people as we say. This is the only way to achieve sustainable results. It all starts with the recruiting of top talents. But if you don't give them the possibility to grow and develop themselves, you will sooner or later pay the price.

Have a nice weekend,


Reading tip: the story of

By Herman van Herterijck

"my ambition is to put the importance of pragmatic and continuous self-coaching on the agenda of current business leaders"

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