Small Business Leader Must Also Be a Coach

December 8, 2020 | Roger and Susie Engelau

As the owner of a small business, you give answers and tell people what to do. But your people also want a boss who understands their goals, taps into their strengths, and helps them make meaningful contributions.

So the small business leader must also be a coach.

Coaching skills fall under the umbrella of leadership. And after the 2020 we’ve had, we think coaching skills can empower your people and help them achieve the greatness that lies within them.

In the January 2021 Growth Plan Workshop we’re discussing the book Unlocking Potential, by Michael K Simpson. Simpson agrees the small business leader must also be a coach and identifies 4 principles and 7 skills to help you do so.

The Small Business Leaders Must Also Be a Coach—The 4 PrinciplesInspire Results Business Coaching

  1. Building Trust – For people to genuinely trust you, you must genuinely care about them. You must also have personal integrity and honesty and keep their confidences.

How?  Listen empathically, be very present, and don’t be distracted. Talk straight. Keep promises. As you develop trust, people will share their vulnerabilities; be diligent about keeping these confidential.

Trust takes weeks and months of careful nurturing to build but it only takes one incident to lose it.

  1. Uncovering Potential – coaching isn’t about making the person be better at what you want them to be better at. It’s about uncovering what the person’s goals and strengths are, then helping them create a plan to get there.

How? Put aside your story and your goals and focus on uncovering the person’s “story.” Look beyond their words for insights into the person such as repetitions, themes, topics repeatedly avoided or that invoke strong emotion.

Conversely, when their perspectives strike you as doing a disservice, challenge them. For example, someone might be overly critical, too optimistic, or possessed with an overabundance of self-confidence. Maybe you pick up that one of your managers believes young people don’t want to work hard. You can help them remove this limiting belief so they can become a supportive coach to their young team members.

  1. Gaining Commitment – You can’t require commitment, but you can create an environment where people are inspired to commit to the goals they want to achieve. How?

A.  Start by helping them identify their goals: “What do you want to accomplish? What contributions do you want to make? What are your goals both personally and professionally? What would you like to have accomplished in 5 years?

B.  Advance commitment by asking “What are you currently doing that’s moving you toward this goal? What obstacles are in your way? What if you don’t achieve this goal? What are the benefits if you do?

C.  Confirm the details… “What are the 2 or 3 most important things you could focus on to start? What actions would you like to focus on in 30 days? 60? 90? What resources will you need?

  1. Execution – Help the person turn goals into habits. A good coach knows that repetition helps develop habits.

How?  You can help create repetition by creating accountability, i.e. regular meetings to follow up on progress. Your goal is to help him/er get into that exhilarating state of being “in flow.”

The Small Business Leader Must Also Be a Coach—The 7 Coaching Skills

  1. Build Trust – Your goal is to help your leaders to A) become trustworthy and B) establish trust with their employees and peers. Start by diagnosing and discussing your manager’s motives and agenda. If you discover a motive that is suspect, i.e. isn’t open, transparent, and mutually beneficial, ask questions that help him/er discover and reframe. Second, do the same for the individual’s competence. In other words, diagnose and discuss ways the person needs to improve his/er track record.
  2. Challenge Paradigms – This entails asking questions like “It sounds like you may be assuming…” “How do you know this is the case?” “What’s another way of looking at this?” “How would the probable outcome achieve your desired intent?” etc.
  3. Seek Strategic Clarity – Here’s where you ask questions that guide the individual to create a mission and strategy with actionable goals.
  4. Execute Flawlessly – The main reason execution fails is that the craziness of the day-to-day overwhelms. As the person’s coach, help him/er A) Focus on the Wildly Important Goal (WIG), B) Act on the lead measures, C) Keep a scoreboard, and D) Create a cadence (a rhythm of regular meetings) of accountability
  5. Give Effective Feedback – In a coaching context, ask questions that cause the person to give themselves feedback first: “What went well?” “What didn’t go well?” “What would you do differently?”  If you want to offer an observation or suggestion, ask, “May I offer a thought?” See also our blogpost on how to give feedback.
  6. Tap into Talent – Most people underestimate themselves so your job as coach is to help them tap into their unique strengths. Ask questions like “What are you passionate about?” “What’re your greatest talents?” “What gets you excited?” “What aligns with your values?” Then set performance goals and watch for opportunities to remove barriers along their journey.
  7. Move the Middle – Who should you focus your coaching efforts on? Rather than spending your time coaching the lowest performing 20% of your team, focus on moving the middle 70% into the top 20%. For the top 20%, focus on rewarding them more than coaching them.

Join us as we discuss Unlocking Potential and then implement what you learn at 2021’s 1st quarter Growth Plan Workshop. It’s a 6-hour group setting with other small business. Our coaches will spend one-on-one time with you, ask you the right questions, and give you the advice you need to walk away with a completed Single Sheet Business Plan and a 90-day Action Plan.

Register here for the next Growth Plan Workshop.

Thur., Jan. 7, 2021, 9 – 3 pm
Holiday Inn Indianapolis Airport, 8555 Stansted Dr, Indianapolis, IN 46241

The small business leader must also be a coach and as you can see, it’s mostly a mindset. With enough repetition, coaching will become a natural habit in your normal day-to-day conversations.