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The Simplest Coaching Pattern Imaginable

Coaching closes gaps between current and desired states by tapping strengths.

Six leadership styles*:

  1. Visionary leaders move people toward shared dreams. They are most useful when organizations need change or clear direction.
  2. Affiliative leaders create harmony by connecting people to each other. They heal rifts and provide motivation to face stress.
  3. Democratic leaders get commitment through participation. They create buy-in and build consensus.
  4. Pacesetting leaders move organizations toward challenging and exciting goals. They succeed best with highly motivated competent teams.
  5. Commanding leaders soothe fear by giving clear direction in crises. They are most effective with problem employees, in a crisis, or igniting a turnaround.
  6. Coaching leaders connect team member’s wants with organizational goals. They forge high performance by developing people.

All six leadership styles have their place. Research shows visionary, affiliative, democratic, and coaching styles are most likely to create positive environments. Because of abuse or misuse, pacesetting and commanding are most often negative.

*Adapted from Primal Leadership by Daniel Goleman.

The simplest coaching pattern imaginable:

#1. Explore problems or issues. (Current state.)

  1. Glance backward to understand how you got here. Glance, never loiter in the past.
  2. Avoid circling the black hole.
  3. Explore problems long enough for coachees to feel heard.
  4. Avoid creating dependency by solving people’s problems/challenges for them.

#2. Imagine the preferred future. (Desired state.)

  1. Coaching is always forward-facing. We change – the past can’t.
  2. Don’t wait for others to create your desired state.
  3. Image what you’re doing – in behavioral terms – if things are going perfectly. Descriptions like, “Everyone is getting along,” are gibberish.

#3. Identify near-term behaviors that ignite forward movement.

  1. Identify four or five behaviors, before choosing next steps.
  2. Choose how and when to take next steps.
  3. Prepare for what might go wrong.
  4. Set your follow-up meeting. 

What leadership styles do you prefer?

What steps might be added or subtracted from the simplest coaching pattern imaginable?

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