Recently, I was having a conversation with a participant of a leadership programme I was running for a client in the Middle East. It was after day one of the programme, and the participant was bemoaning a situation that he and his peers were facing regularly in their organisation.
“My boss gets too involved in the detail! He’s such a micro-manager. I have an MBA from Yale, and 15 years’ experience doing this job, in 6 countries, but he won’t delegate any tasks of significance to me. I want him to develop me, stretch me, but he just won’t. I’m not sure what sort of future I have with this organisation; I feel my talents are being wasted here.”
What made this even more poignant, were two conversations I had had two days before.
One was with his manager: who admitted how the pressure of the job was crushing him, and that he had no work-life balance, and was struggling to keep on top of his division.
The second was with the CEO, who had remarked that a major problem for the organisation was talent drain, and a lack of clear succession!
This speaks to a wider problem. 71% of workers are ‘not engaged’: a near-record low (Gallup, 2017). Furthermore, 84% of senior leaders globally say disengaged employees are one of the three biggest threats facing their business (The Economist, 2016) reducing competitive advantage.
Here’s a question for any organisation facing this threat: does the leadership and management style in your organisation lean more to coaching, or consulting?
If, like many organisations, your leaders and managers offer solutions, give orders, and expect their direct reports to understand their needs by telepathy, then it’s no wonder employees are feeling disengaged.
However, if leaders and managers pull, not push; ask open questions designed to stimulate curious enquiry, and delegate tasks that will stretch, not break their direct report, and reflect at the end of a task or project to see what was learned from the process (rather than merely focus on end result, then move onto the next pressing issue) they win…for all.
Every organisation I have ever worked with, that seriously invests in developing coaching behaviours in its leaders and managers, reports an increase in employee engagement, heightened self-responsibility, and talent retention. This investment encourages employees to take greater responsibility, and gives managers and leaders greater opportunities to focus on strategic priorities. For the organisation, it creates space for better decision-making, greater innovation, and drives deeper client relationships, because it teaches us how to really listen to what the other person wants and needs.
Coaching is a winning behaviour.
David Chapman is the Faculty Director of Starfish L&D www.starfishld.com; running Vision, Leadership, and Change programmes for a global corporate client base, and open Coaching Skills programmes for individuals wanting to embed sustainable change in their organisations.