Often in my work with executives, they grasp right away the value of having an executive coach to bounce ideas off, to process thoughts as they speak, to challenge their point of view and have them come out even more clear on their position and way forward. They want to keep that kind of communication in their experience, even when no external coach is around. 

Here are three simple ways to begin to encourage coach-like behavior followed by the potential payoff. 

1. Start with Simple Curiosity When we can stay curious a little longer in each of our conversations, we invite the other person to share their ideas fully. This doesn’t happen when someone is checking their watch or rolling their hands in a get-to-the-point gesture. If we can suspend judgement long enough to fully hear an idea and ask questions that fully flesh that idea out, and maybe even add to it, we create more harmony in our connections and the other person feels truly heard and valued. 

The payoffs: People share ideas more often, more freely and the community or team feels deeper connection and safety in putting their ideas out there when judgement isn’t so prevalent.

2. Create a Safe Environment

Each of us wants to be accepted and valued for who we are and what we contribute. Design some agreements about inclusivity and acceptance of diverse ideas, backgrounds and preferences so that people know that acceptance is part of the culture and they can be their authentic selves without feeling ridiculed, excluded or judged. 

The payoffs: When people feel safe, included, accepted, they are more likely to bring a rich point of view that is unique to them and their experience, which enlarges the whole. Innovation and creativity thrive in an accepting environment. 

3. Stop Telling People What to Do

Begin instead to ask open-ended questions that allows for the other person to solve their own issues. For example, when a direct report comes into your office complaining about the gossiping that occurs on the team, rather than solving the issue for them, you might ask, “How are you going to ask them for what you prefer?” or “What do you see as options for resolving this between the four of you?” 

The payoffs: Your reports begin to feel empowered to resolve their own issues and you are freed up to do your best work. Open-ended questions are a powerful tool to help people get to the hidden resources in their own minds. Some coaches engage each other to call them and ask a set of questions like that every week, because there is something about the way those open questions land that makes us think differently and be resourceful.

You may not be able to have a coach engaged year ‘round, yet with a few shifts in the way people interact, you can begin to build coach-like behavior into your organization. Then, you might find a colleague sitting down with you and saying, “Hey, would you coach me through this?” and you will know how to proceed.

Teri Johnson is the founding partner of Personal Best Partners, LLC and faculty coach and mentor for People Acuity. To learn more about how we help leaders and teams be more innovative and operate more interdependently, visit our website at www.personalbestpartners.com

To learn more about online resources for your team, visit www.peopleacuity.com

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