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How C U T E is your leadership style

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Sudhakar Reddy - Founder- Executive Director, Nirvedha Executive Coaching Solutions, Mumbai

18-Oct-2018

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Without great leader-coaches, employee performance, and therefore, organizational performance fails. Its right on any scale from individual employees to high - performance teams, to business units or functions, even entire organizations.

All organizations have access to more or less the same resources. They draw from the same pool of people in their markets or geographies. Moreover, they can all learn about the latest tools and techniques. However, not all organizations perform equally. There is a huge gap between high - and low - performing organizations. Leaders are the differentiating factors between high - and low - performing organizations and they have a vastly influential role to play in optimizing employees' performance.
 
What accounts for this huge gap in leadership?
 
Expectation mismatch : As many leaders behave as bosses, technocrats or even bullies. They kill team spirit, arouse mediocrity and eventually drain the energy out of the team. The results are poor morale, loss of talented people and low performance. Employees have reasonable expectations - treat me fairly, provide me with a leader whom I trust and respect, and give me an opportunity to be a significant contributor to the team. Employees join and stay with, organizations that honor these expectations.
 
However, effective leaders, by contrast, develop people. Rather than running around solving problems, strong leaders empower and enable others to solve daily operational challenges.
 
CUTE Leadership Style - Key Aspects
 
According to me to a considerable extent, leaders' coaching skills can help employees' performance flourish or erode. I call this essential skill a C U T E Leadership skill - Coaching Ur Team to Excel.
 
Everyone deserves a great leader. Also, great leaders are great coaches. Without great leader - coaches, employee performance, and therefore organizational performance, fails. It's right on any scale, from individual employees to high - performance teams, to business units or functions, even entire organizations. All rely on coaching to optimize performance. Strong leaders don't just see people as they are. They coach people into becoming what they can be.
 
I think that leaders look into the following aspects while they are coaching their teams in their organization :
  • Making them aware of what they are choosing/not choosing (the decisions they are currently making that are causing them to underperform or feel unmotivated or uninspired).
  • Making them aware of why they make those choices (the professional or even personal reasons).
  • Making them be mindful of the impact/consequences of their decisions (on themselves, others, the team, and organization).
  • Making them responsible and accountable for their choices and current situation/performance (take ownership of what is and is not happening).
  • Expand their range of opportunities (open to more possibilities or options, new ways of doing things).
  • Move towards new decisions (create plans, clarify support structures and take specific empowered action).
Preparing them to be more self-directed/self-sufficient (take greater initiative in the future to reflect upon points 1-6 on their own and learn from their challenges).
 
What I firmly believe is that the most potent way for a leader is Prompting teams' ideation by asking non-threatening questions; Helping employees see change as an opportunity, not a risk. To change people's mind is to help them to think more broadly for themselves using a coaching approach. Listening, reflecting on what you hear and sense, and then asking powerful questions can change how a person sees himself and the world around him. These discoveries lead to permanent and positive behavioural change in their teams.
 
How Coach leaders are different from other leaders : 
 
Three key aspects that differentiate coach leaders from others :
 
  • Coach leaders earn the right to coach through the quality of their character. They know themselves well, are confident in their roles as coaches, and are deeply committed to the success of the people they lead.
  • Coach leaders develop a right relationship a unique peer-to-peer connection which is built on mutual trust. This relationship is the medium through which the transformational process of coaching occurs, and the leader has the primary responsibility for creating this special relationship.
  • Coach leaders during coaching conversation with their teams use the dialog that challenges assumptions, that highlights passions, that helps surface obstructions, explore possibilities and charts exciting new pathways forward.
     
The coach Leaders takes into account the fact that people are naturally creative, resourceful and capable - meaning, they have the answers within them and are capable of acting on them. When you lead from this operating assumption, you may find that you chase, nag, figure out for others, and impose agendas and expectations with less frequency, and instead support others to define their working parameters for themselves. You may notice that you hold people to a much higher standard of capacity and personal responsibility, and hold yourself with greater integrity, care, and ease.
 
In a nutshell, by being what I call a coach Leader, you empower others and yourself at the same time. It is a win-win.
 
Conclusion
Coaching is a new paradigm for organizations and relationships. More and more organizations, such as IBM, TCS, Tech Mahindra, GE, Accenture are creating a coaching culture that promotes collaborative - based, other - centered leadership models. It requires you to boldly refrain from leaning too much into (managing) other people's worlds and standing pat in your own. It necessitates that you hold people incredibly capable, perhaps more intelligent than they see themselves. It asks that you grant more power to the question than the answer - to not knowing more than knowing. Moreover, it demands that you surrender a degree of control so that you can empower others to gain greater control of their work and life.
 
Leaders with CUTE skill help others think more broadly for themselves. They do this by sharing insightful reflections and asking powerful questions that disrupt and expand people's minds.