Discover The Coach Within You
One of three basic roles of leadership is coach or mentor. The best boss is often best coach. (See: http://tlc-leadership.com/the_three_faces_of_leadership) In sports coach is very conscious of his role but in business world most coaching is unconscious or even accidental.
Just as many a dad learned to coach by jumping in with his son's baseball or hockey team or his daughter's basketball team most manager / coaches learned art through a baptism of fire. In recent years most sports organizations have begun to require some form of certification for coaches but even though there are several national and international organizations of business coaches, there is still no universal standard, even for professionals. The amateurs, encompassing almost every executive in world, for most part don't even realize what they are doing.
I have known executives who were great coaches who looked at me a little oddly when I told them so, but with a little introspection most come to realize that coaching is really what they do. Coaching is simply process of helping someone to become more of best he or she can be.
Most executives can improve their coaching skills with just a little effort and guidance from a professional. I'm often amazed at performance increase that happens through focus alone, and focus with analysis, and constructive feedback from someone who knows what to look for -- well, have you ever gone to a golf pro, with a wicked slice that turned out to be simple to cure? I did, after years of playing out of adjacent fairway most of time!
Like many things in business coaching is often learned on job. I have learned a great deal about coaching from reading dozens of books on subject but I also learned a lot from working for someone who was a great coach and mentor and I still learn every day from experience of coaching. You will find that, if you jump in with both feet, you will discover coach within -- and enjoy it!
So simply recognizing that you are a coach and applying a little of what you know from sports will make a big difference in your performance -- and in performance of your people -- but a little "one on one" with your own coach might be a huge help. Until you get that opportunity, I sincerely hope that some of tips in this articles will get you started in right direction.
Coaching A Team
Just as in sports there is a huge difference in approach to coaching an individual, such as a golfer or tennis player and coaching a group or team as in baseball or hockey, so too is there a difference in business world. Coaching a true team in business can be a rather complex business, often its even difficult to determine when a group really is a team and when it is not. For purpose of this discussion I am going to assume we are talking about a true team and trust pieces to fall into place automatically. (Or perhaps with a little coaching?) (See www.tlc-leadership.com/teams_magic_and_mystery )
For a team to be effective, it should be aware that it is a team (most of time) and all members should be committed to team objectives. Just as a ball player can receive major attention as a base stealer, an individual may stand out on a manufacturing team, but efforts must be seen to contribute to team goals and every one should recognize that every team member is necessary. (Whenever we can get along without someone, we should!)
At risk of pointing out obvious (experience suggests that obvious often isn't) every team member should be aware of team's goals, objectives, and deadlines as well as of his or her role and what team expects from him or her, and what support resources are available. I am surprised at how often I find that shop floor people and even supervisors have no idea of goals of their team, department or branch and no idea of how performance is being measured.
The coach must always recognize contribution of superstar but smaller contributions should also receive recognition and praise and coach should encourage superstar to acknowledge efforts of those who support him as well. It isn't necessary to rave about great performance, it can be quiet and subtle but in many cases it should be public while keeping in mind need to avoid embarrassing anyone. A good standard is to always criticize in private and often praise in public.
Leadership From The Top Floor To The Shop Floor
Another thing I often find is that managers are totally unaware of extent to which they are emulated by their subordinates. I heard a story about a clerk in a retail store who was called up in front of store manager after being rude to a customer. When asked for an explanation he shrugged and said, "Well ... that's how my bosses speak to me..." When people are treated with dignity and respect, they tend to treat others same way, and when they are treated as though they are too stupid to understand basic concepts they do same with others -- and often take attitude home.
I have seen concrete examples of companies where I could spend an hour on shop floor and form a very good idea of what CEO was like and how he dealt with his senior people.
COACHING A TASK FORCE
A Task Force is a Team That Recommends Things. It differs from other teams in several ways. First, and perhaps most importantly, a Task Force usually does not have power or final say so in implementing action. Rather team examines all possibilities, evaluates pro's and cons from an unbiased perspective, and presents a report to a decision maker or decision making group with recommendations for action or no action.
A Task Force can be set up to look at one issue only or as an ongoing project to focus on specific objectives. For example a Task Force could be set up to determine future of a specific branch operation in which it might recommend, closure of branch, sale of branch, re-equiping branch, changing focus of branch or even of maintaining status quo. Once it's recommendations have been made -- perhaps to board of directors -- Task Force is disbanded.
In another case a Task Force Could be set up to examine Health and Safety issues in a manufacturing facility in which case pertinent issues and concerns would be examined and evaluated, recommendations could be made on an on going basis for several months to establish broad guidelines and set up a policy and procedure manual and Task Force could remain in existence on an ad hoc basis for several additional months and then be replaced by a Health and Safety Committee (a different kind of team) to oversee developments.