Successful leaders usually have some similar skills in their toolbox that help them thrive, such as fantastic time management, the ability to make tough decisions, or delegating. You won’t go wrong for your team or your own career by honing those. At the end of the day, though, what really matters is whether you’re a great coach.
No, Mentoring and Coaching Are Not the Same Thing
When people think of coaching, they often confuse it with mentoring. Mentoring just means that you train or advise somebody. That could be telling them what you’ve learned throughout your career or sending them off to a conference somewhere. And leadership in this sense is a lot of the nuts and bolts you might learn in business school, like working together through profit and loss or pouring over Excel spreadsheets.
Coaching is different. It’s not so much about logistics, data, or technicals, but rather about helping people understand who they are inside. It’s psychology. You don’t tell them what to do so much as help them find their own ways of being better so they can boost their performance. It’s with coaching that you really develop a sense of connection and relationship.
It comes down to cultivating the right mindset as a coach and entrepreneur. The mindset you develop will drive your behavior. That behavior then drives your results. Your results can reinforce your thinking and what you do, creating an ongoing cycle, feeding back into mindset.
The Four Key Skills You Need To Be a Fantastic Coach
Once it’s clear to you that mentoring and coaching are separate things, you then have to ask yourself, what’s necessary to coach well? What is needed to create the right coaching mindset and behaviors?
1. Global Awareness
This just means that, even though you’re seeing what goes on in every department of your business, you see the whole forest, not just the leaves. You have a sense of what’s happening in the world that influences your understanding of what people are going through and need. You know what the trends are and how adjusting one thing can influence many others. As technology helps companies work with and serve anybody regardless of location, this skill is becoming even more important.
2. Excellent Listening Skills
This really refers to active listening, which means that you intentionally try to hear others out, grasp their intent, and fully consider what they’ve said before you answer. Most people struggle to do this because they don’t feel comfortable with silence or want to come across as more intelligent by throwing out a fast response. Listening well to the people you coach will help you discover what their real concerns, goals, or subconscious hang-ups are so they can decide how to address them best.
3. Affinity for Customer Experience
Customer experience is all about whether a person feels good while they’re working with you. Viewed through the lens of coaching, it’s usually hard for a person to learn and change if they don’t trust you or if you give them strategies and tools that seem really inconvenient. They’ll do better if you go out of your way to ensure that they perceive the whole journey with you in a positive light. A great experience shouldn’t just be reserved for your customers, but your employees and peers as well.
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4. Pristine Attention to Detail
Successful leaders usually apply attention to detail to their everyday tasks. They use it to critique the people under them thoughtfully and to make sure they’re really competent. This helps people see specifically where they can improve and ultimately protects the company.
With coaching, attention to detail might mean noticing connotation in someone’s word choice or the habits they have as they work. It could mean seeing that their body language has changed or doesn’t match what they said. By not missing these elements, you get a better, fuller picture of who they are and how to help. It’s easier to call them out on points that need accountability in a compassionate way that’s uniquely suited to them, too.
With Coaching First, Everybody Wins
The best professionals aren’t just about removing inefficiencies or finding the best technologies for their teams. They do more than what standard business classes offer and dig as much into developing people as they do policies or strategies. Hone the nuts and bolts, but aim to be a coach above all else if you really want everybody to cross the finish line.