When I was teaching secondary school English, I once overheard two students discussing their teacher allocations at the start of the year. From the other side of the hedge, I heard one boy say to the other, “Who have you got for English?” His friend replied, “I’ve got Crawford”. In response the inquisitor let out a sigh and gave some hushed advice, “Don’t make any sudden moves in her class mate!”
Every student and every parent knows that one of the most crucial factors in student academic success outside of your own hard work and mental capacity is class allocation. Which teacher’s class will a student be allocated to this year…as important as winning the academic lottery and at present in our schools just as chancy!more info
I remember my first experience of a manager who applied the coaching methodology in response to a question I posed to him. Instead of giving me an answer he simply asked me “What do you think”? I was taken aback. My first instinct, which thankfully remained inaudible, was "Isn’t it your job to give me answers?" However I quickly discovered how critical his approach was to my development. It focused me on honing my analysis and problem solving skills. It forced me to make my own judgement calls. It started me on the path to determining what I stood for and greatly accelerated my confidence as a professional with my own point of view.
Coaching is a critical skill for managers, particularly given our need to build the capability of team members to make good decisions autonomously and as a by-product get more done with positive results. Whilst coaching is an integral part of any good leadership and management program, what we don't want are participants in 'Manager as Coach' programs perceiving coaching as their panacea so much so that it becomes their entire management approach. The trap of latching onto 'the' solution is ever present in the management and leadership space and development programs must caution participants from seeing specific methodologies as total solutions.
Instead, it is important for managers to be versatile. They need to have the insight to know that in many scenarios they may need to switch between approaches - sometimes in the same conversation - in order to achieve positive outcomes.
The emphasis on versatility and giving managers an opportunity to practice switching between approaches is neglected too often in development programs. It's a great real world test. Unfortunately in the often unrealistic world of workshops our development activities are artificial and somewhat limited in scope.
So, in addition to coaching what are the approaches that people managers need to switch between to demonstrate their versatility I hear you say? To me there are four that stand out.
What it takes to transition successfully into management is often something that many underestimate and are underprepared for.
Let's start with new managers. Countless times I've heard managers bemoan the lack of training they received as a new manager. This is an admission that they weren't ready, yet they still accepted the roles. They almost certainly accepted them because they were communicated as promotions and as rewards for hard work. The increase in status and remuneration is seductive and for many that can facilitate a certain denial about the true nature of the role. "It'll be the same but I'll just to get to make more decisions" they tell their friends.
Reality can be quite different.
If you are a keen student of politics as I am you will have noticed that some of our recent Prime Ministers have at times (some more often than others) failed to successfully execute the important leadership tool of delegation.
Kevin Rudd was miserable at it and our current PM, Tony Abbott seems to struggling with it too (take his recent rumoured micro-management attempt over Julie Bishop’s trip to Lima to discuss climate change, and Abbott’s Chief of staff Peta Credlin’s rumoured micro-management of Liberal Party ministers). It's time we address some aspects that make delegation so difficult.more info
We have high expectations of our leaders. Sometimes we expect them to work miracles. However it’s fair to say many don’t make it any easier on themselves – particularly when they chop and change their approach and their decisions. I think leaders would be more effective if they stuck to some fundamentals and consistently applied them.more info