This past weekend, fall baseball and football games began for my teenage boys and it prompted me to think about the value and impact of good coaching. Both boys have a mix of former and new coaches who all express different coaching styles. The tricky part for these coaches is that what is a good coaching style for one child may shut down another child. For example, when my younger son gets “yelled at” he will go inward and become overly self critical causing him to shut down. Conversely, his brother will be motivated to do better. The best coaches are the ones who understand this dichotomy and focus on how to lead “each” of their players.
This holds true for leaders in the workplace as well. As a leader, it is important to understand each person on your team. This includes what motivates them, how they want to be recognized, what type of emotion (i.e. empathy, anger, encouragement, passion) they respond to better and what will shut them down. This helps you get the best of your team in their work. When they are at their best, results increase.
You may be thinking that this sounds like a lot of work. In reality, it does not need to be complicated. In one of your regular 1:1s ask your employees a few simple questions:
- Tell me about your favorite leader? Why were they your favorite – what did they do or not do?
- How can I get the best of you?
- What would bring out the worst in you?
- What is important to you in a leader?
- How do you like to be recognized?
Ask these questions over the course of a few of 1:1s and listen closely to each answer. This will involve some vulnerability since you may hear things that you are not currently doing today. It also involves vulnerability on their part to share these things with you. Be ready to acknowledge that fact up front to help create psychological safety. If they will not engage, they most likely do not feel safe. Work to develop a deeper level of trust and, when there is a deeper level of trust, ask again.
This is a good conversation to have annually since things may change for both of you. If you want support in preparing for those conversations, call me. I am happy to help.