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5 Key Strategies for Coaching Success

by Coaching Out of the Box
5 Key Strategies for Coaching Success

The professional coaching industry is growing rapidly, creating new opportunities as well as challenges for both new and experienced coaches. If you are just entering the coaching field or already established, more than ever you need to have smart strategies for success.

So, with a growing industry that presents many opportunities as well as a few challenges, what does it take to achieve success? Hint: It is more than just good coaching skills. Yes, it is important to get quality training, to develop good coaching skills and gain confidence. But success as a coach goes much further.

In an organization, success is not just about good coaching skills but also about doing the work yourself and being a coaching role model. As coaches, we need clear objectives and goals. We need a clear path on how we will achieve our goals and we need to understand what is holding us back. People are drawn to those who exhibit the attributes they are seeking so it is important that we get our house in order first.

As a solopreneur, success is not only about excellence in coaching skills but setting up and managing a business. This includes business development, marketing, operations and finance. It is important to have a plan on how you will manage your business in addition to coaching your clients.

Based on our decades of experience in the coaching field and the work we’ve done in training and supporting coaches around the globe, we’ve identified 5 key strategies for coaching success.

  1. Do the work yourself, first

Do the work yourself and get a coach. Going through the process yourself will give you unique insights as well as a powerful success story to tell your potential coachees.

  1. Leverage your strengths

Each of us has unique strengths. The smart strategy is to leverage your strengths first. If you aren’t sure what your strengths are, take an inventory, ask trusted associates and then put them down on paper. As you develop your list of strengths, consider all experiences; personal, professional, good, bad and neutral. For example, maybe you are naturally a good listener. Write that down. Also, look at your accomplishments, in all aspects of your life, and identify what you can leverage. These could be professional accomplishments but they could also be athletic, academic, hobbies or others.

  1. Invest in education

An investment in education and training will not only give you the skill and confidence you need but it will also help you market yourself. And, it is important to keep the learning going. Even after you have the basics down it is important to refresh, enhance and refine your skills.

  1. Capitalize on your current position

Whether you are working within an organization or already building your coaching business, find opportunities where you are today to start building your credibility. For example, you can start coaching trusted colleagues or business associates. Once you take that step you can then start to develop a track record of success as well as leverage those relationships for your word of mouth marketing.

  1. Determine what makes you unique and how you will tell that story

It is competitive out there. You need to craft your story about what makes you unique and why people should come to you for coaching. This story needs to be personal, compelling and concise.

Once you’ve crafted your story you then need to tell it to everyone, everywhere. For example, make sure your story is told in your bio, on your website, in your talks, and when networking. You may need to modify your story slightly to fit different audiences but the message should be consistent.

Bonus tip for Solopreneurs:

  1. Don’t try to do it all

As a business owner, your time is best spent on acquiring new clients and coaching. To free up your time for these important activities you need to have systems or people in place that will take care of the other tasks. This is one of the biggest challenges, and often downfalls, of coaches who go into business for themselves. They believe they must do it all and end up falling short. They find out that by trying to do it all they actually can’t get everything done and end up sacrificing quality.

There are highly experienced people available for hire to do just about anything you need help with including accounting, administration, marketing, information technology, legal and more. Hire the experts to do the work or at least have them set up systems that are efficient for you to manage.

Pursuing a coaching career is exciting but it takes hard work, smart strategies and time. If you’d like more help on strategies for success, we are here to support you. Register for our free webinar: Making it as a Coach: Strategies for Success and check out our Video – Making it as a Coach.

If you have questions or would like to discuss these strategies for success in more detail, get in touch by sending an email to [email protected].

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How Can Coaching Impact Organizations?

by Coaching Out of the Box

It can be really easy to confuse the term “coaching” with “managing”. Managers often assume that because they are a capable leader, they must also be a good coach, and this is not necessarily true. Unfortunately, coaching is not a skill most people are born with, nor is it a skill naturally acquired along the route to learning how to manage. The problem with this is that a manager who cannot coach won’t get the most out of their employees. Let’s look at what coaching can bring to the table, where managing alone falls short.

A lot of the top companies in the world not only teach coaching, but expect managers to spend over 50% of their time engaged in coaching their subordinates. Here’s why:

  • Higher employee engagement
  • Greater productivity
  • Increased employee retention rate
  • Stronger perception of company leadership
  • Improved customer loyalty

The Key To An Effective Team

 The key here is employee engagement; all the other benefits stem directly from that one concept. So what, exactly, is employee engagement? The most basic way to describe or measure engagement is the level of commitment to and involvement with the company displayed by employees. Committed and engaged employees tend to be happier, which will increase productivity. Their lower stress levels will improve their general health, resulting in a more present and efficient workforce who are less likely to jump ship at the first opportunity. The engaged employee will also work very closely with their supervisors in a collaborative effort, which will improve their perception of their superiors.

To gain access to all of these benefits, managers have to learn how to coach. One of the primary differences between coaching and managing is the attitude towards working with their subordinates. A manager is typically a directive individual: distributing work, overseeing projects, and keeping their eye on the bottom line. Managers are masters of clear, one-way communication. Coaching, on the other hand, is collaborative. Coaches work with their team members, joining them on the frontlines and working as partners in open communication. Employees who are being coached are more likely to feel that their work is challenging, enjoyable, and rewarding, which, in turn, gives them a sense of worth and value within the team.

Four Important Areas of Coaching

Let’s look at four primary aspects of coaching and how each of them will improve the areas outlined above.

  • Leadership – The strength of leadership in a coaching environment comes largely from having a strong company vision and transmitting this effectively to your team members. When staff members understand what the company is all about and have a clear idea of their value in this vision, they will respect your leadership and contribute their whole selves to the group effort.
  • Voice – Give your employees a chance to be heard. This means really listening to them. Many managers feel they give their employees ample face time with them in one-on-one scenarios, but the important distinction here is to really practice active listening, rather than doing all the talking yourself. When the employee feels heard, they will feel increasingly engaged and respected.
  • Behavior – Company values and behavior start at the top. Simply put, employees will never respect a “do as I say, not as I do” mentality from their superiors. If you have clear-cut principles and guidelines for employee behavior, it is absolutely essential that this code is upheld all the way up the chain of command.
  • Empower – Empowering your employees comes from shifting the managerial mindset. The manager who views his subordinates as people who need to be micro-managed and controlled will fail to earn the respect and commitment of his employees. Begin, instead, with the viewpoint that each member of your staff is a valuable and intelligent person who wants to do a good job, and make it your goal each day to support them in this endeavor.

The last bullet point there is vital to the essentials of coaching. As a coach, you must begin working with your employees on the premise that their goal is to be the best employee they can be and develop the relationship from there. After establishing that outlook, you can help guide them and eliminate obstacles to working with and understanding them effectively. When your employees feel that you respect them, they will begin to trust you. When you take action to support and strengthen this trust, they will develop faith and confidence in you. With these principles established in your work environment, the possibilities are endless. Your employees will thank you and your bottom line will reflect it.

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Team-Building – What Works?

by Coaching Out of the Box

Team-building exercises are historically hit-or-miss endeavors. In most workplaces, when people hear that management has planned some team-building, employees’ reactions will range from active defiance and eye-rolling to outright apathy, but rarely is it news received with enthusiasm. However, there are exercises and strategies which work, which aren’t cringe-inducing, and which won’t cost anybody an arm and a leg. If you’re looking to bring some unity to your team, let’s take a look at a way to do that without driving your employees crazy. 

 
Why Work on Team Building?
 
Team-building is some of the most important work that a team leader can engage his team in. A team which works well together will be a more efficient team, producing better results in shorter periods of time. When a team begins to gel with each other, communication will be better and more open, improving relationships between members and anybody else with whom they interact outside of the team. People operating in this healthy environment will be more motivated and have a better overall sense of mutual trust.
 
How to Approach These Activities
 
It’s important to keep in mind that team-building should not feel like team-building. If it feels like a tedious, heavy-handed task with an obvious purpose, employees will quickly lose interest and not put any effort into the activity, which will obviously defeat the whole purpose. Trying too hard will drive a wedge between you and your team, and could even cost you their respect.
 
Try to keep a casual air about these activities, and let them be fun. It’s important to note the difference between “letting it be fun” and “making it fun”; team members can tell the difference. For instance, when planning something, don’t take the whole burden on yourself. Instead, allow as much team input as possible to make sure the idea is something that the people taking part in it actually want to do. Studies have shown that happiness and learning go hand in hand, i.e. a happy employee will learn more than an unhappy one, so let them make the activity fun. They will enjoy it more and get more out of it as a result. 
 
Team Building Exercises and Strategies That Work
 
  • Informal Address – Drop formal manners of speech. Allow team members to communicate with one another and with their superiors in whichever way feels most comfortable. Let them throw an emoji or two into their emails or their texting, discard the use of titles, add slang to the workplace vocabulary. Team members who feel less overshadowed by their superiors and uptight around their fellows will be encouraged to speak freely and honestly.
  • Celebrate Success – This starts with the leader. When your team members do well, whether it’s getting work done ahead of schedule or coming up with a great new idea, celebrate it openly. This will encourage other members to do the same, pushing negativity out of the team environment. 
  • Mix Up Your Team – There are a number of ways to do this, but all share the same goal: get people out of their comfort zone and interacting with people they might not ordinarily work closely with. This creates a greater sense of cohesion and overall understanding across all parts of a team. Ways to do this can include breaking discussions into randomized groups or letting employees from one department go learn what a different department does for a day. Be creative!
  • Group Outings – Taking the team out for a day or an evening is a great way to develop cohesion. Ideally, this event shouldn’t have any intended purpose, other than fun. Don’t try to draw any profound lessons out of the experience or point it towards “Team-Building”. Just take the team out to a sports game or a concert and let them have a good time with each other. They will bond and have a good time. The results will show in their work.
  • Encourage Shared Hobbies – In most teams, it is common for team members to share outside interests. Provide these employees, if possible, with the space, email lists, and even minor financial support (if appropriate) to pursue these hobbies with each other. Not only will these team members feel supported, other members may discover new interests and join them, as well. This sort of extracurricular team involvement strengthens the relationships between team members and will show up at work as well.
 
Team Building – Not an Episode of ‘The Office’
 
So there you have it. Keep team-building casual, fun, and employee-driven. Most importantly, don’t force things. Instead focus on creating environments which foster natural development of team chemistry. If you keep these things in mind, you will be a respected and well-liked leader, and, as a result, you will have a team which runs like a well-oiled machine, both during business hours and outside!

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Empathy in the Workplace

by Coaching Out of the Box

When it comes to making sure you and your coworkers are operating at the highest rate of efficiency, there are a ton of factors to consider. Things like communication, cooperation, and leadership are commonly discussed elements of a successful team, but what underlies all of these things is a little thing called empathy. Empathy, not to be confused with sympathy, is the ability to experience and relate to thoughts and emotions of people around you, and it is a vital skill often overlooked in the workplace.

 
Empathy – The Key to Leadership
 
For some time now, it has been relatively common knowledge that empathy is an essential component of strong relationships. At the same time, research shows that leadership in the workplace has become an increasingly relationship-based role, dependent largely upon your ability to really get the most out of your relationships with others. In today’s increasingly connected world, contact and communication with people from different countries, cultures, and ideologies is common as well. Leaders who have the ability to understand and empathize with others find crossing these divides to be much easier. 
 
In addition to being able to work with diverse people more easily, the empathic leader has a bunch of advantages in other ways, as well. For instance, regardless of the specific setting, it is vital to the success of any project that the people working together believe in and care about the goal towards which they are working. The empathic leader will not only show people that he cares about them, but that he believes in their endeavors and understands the rigors of the task. This last part is especially important, as a strong leader absolutely must have an acute awareness of others. They have to watch for signs of stress and fatigue, and know when their employees or co-workers need a little extra support. Lastly, empathy is a top factor psychologists look for when evaluating a person’s emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is, research suggests, a strong indicator of leadership ability.
 
Empathy Can Be Learned
 
So empathy is important, that much is clear. But it seems like the sort of thing you’re either born with or you aren’t. Fortunately, it can be taught and it can be learned. In fact, even if you are a naturally empathic person, honing these skills is a beneficial practice and can be accomplished through focusing on these five main areas:
 
Open Discussion – As discussed above, understand and explain to your employees the importance of empathy. Let them know that the best way for them to improve upon this vital skill is to give real time and attention to others, and be open to feedback. For people who are more performance or “numbers” oriented, explain to them the strong correlation between an empathetic workplace and improved work output.
Listening Skills – Listening is a skill which many people neglect or confuse with “hearing”. Listening is an active process which involves withholding judgment, reflecting your understanding of what is being said, asking for clarification, and sharing in dialogue. By practicing these things, you will better understand what your employees or co-workers are saying, thereby increasing your understanding of them.
Walk in Others’ Shoes – The practice of “walking in others’ shoes” involves shifting your perspective and attempting to feel what someone else might be going through. When interacting with others, actively bring into consciousness what you know of the other person’s life experiences and try to imagine what it is like to be in their position at this moment in time. This may be difficult at first, but over time and with practice, this will begin to come naturally.
Compassion – This is an issue of going beyond the surface level when decisions are being made or events are taking place. Take the time to go deeper than just, say, the financial ramifications of business decision or the nuts-and-bolts view of company structure. Think about how these things affect those around you on an individual and emotional level. Be open, allowing time to reflect on these things honestly and compassionately.
Experience Diversity – Take every opportunity you can to involve yourself with different people. Whether they are of a different race, religion, nationality, or age group, interact constantly with people outside your norm. When doing so, do it with an eye towards learning more about who they are, what they believe in, and what their experiences have taught them. The more different people you learn about and come to understand, the greater your capacity for empathy will be.
 
Teach Empathy. Learn Empathy.
 
When it comes to improving on areas in your own life or helping others to improve their skillsets, it’s important to take a look at what’s most important. In other words, if you’re going to take time to work on something, it is better if that something is an area which affects nearly all parts of a person’s life. Empathy is such an area. By practicing the tools above, you can improve just about every area of your life, from work to personal relationships to just about anything you can think of. Practice empathy in your daily life, share it with others, and learn to grow together. 

 

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10 Important Actions of Leadership

by Coaching Out of the Box

Being a leader doesn’t come from a position or a title, but rather actions and examples. People choose to follow those they admire and respect. In order to gain a followership or lead a team, certain qualities, characteristics and actions need to be implemented. The following are 10 Important Actions to building leadership status:

  1. Put others first. Making others feel important will gain their trust and improve the relationship.
  2. Have a vision, set of values or common goal people can get behind. When others believe that the cause is worthwhile, they will be willing to get on board.
  3. Practice praise and gratitude. These are important to others, especially if they feel unimportant or unappreciated.
  4. Be there. Leadership takes commitment to be visible to the followers or team. If they don’t feel everyone, including the leader, is fully part of the team, the overall atmosphere suffers.
  5. Communicate effectively. Make conversations interactive and get the point across efficiently.
  6. Be decisive and lead by example. Be the person worth following and make the important decisions quickly and effectively.
  7. Delegate to competent team members. There is no one-man-show in a team. Take the tasks others might not want, but ensure those with the skills to be effective are being utilized.
  8. Practice respect. Respect is easier to give to people who already show it.
  9. Inspire and motivate. Focus on the positive aspects of each team member and motivate them to grow their skills and competencies.
  10. Keep momentum up. There may be times were morale is lower or goals are not being met in the timeframes set out. Every plan needs to be adaptable and it is up to the leader to ensure things stay on track.

The best leadership advice is to follow other leaders to see their example. Outside of this, the above actions are key to building a strong leadership presence and a loyal team or followership. The start of good leadership is caring about others and wanting to see everyone benefit from success. Even if leadership isn’t the goal, these actions can help improve relationships and build to success.

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