Ron Rael

Are You an Effective Coach?

Find out.

February 13, 2012
by Ron Rael, CPA

Thankfully, the business world has made strides in moving away from a command and control form of leadership. This obsolete and ineffective method is being replaced by a coaching leadership style. A majority of today’s most successful CEOs describe themselves as coaches first and managers second.

Coaching is something that you may be already doing as a supervisor. Do not assume that coaching is a soft skill; in fact, it is a mix of both technical and people skills combined in a unique fashion that produces great results for the leader who believes in and utilises coaching.

Coaching in a Nutshell

We turn to a coach when we want to improve a specific skill or talent and are unable to do it on our own.

The coach is someone who is skilled in the area and can provide guided help so CFOs will end up in a better place than they are now. Being a coach in business is similar to coaching in sports; you are administering skill-based practice so that the person can reach a specific outcome. The coach’s job is to help the coachee see the obstacles that are preventing him or her from being successful and to jump-start the momentum needed to reach a goal. Being a successful coach is extremely satisfying and gratifying.

Coaching at the Individual Level

The Skill of Coaching

Coaching is personalised, individualised training and support given to someone. It is building a continual relationship between the coach and the person being coached. Coaching is not

  • controlling,
  • managing,
  • micromanaging or
  • supervising.

Coaching is dramatically more challenging, yet rewarding, than the out-of-date command and control method for managing people. In command and control the leader dictates the rules and tasks while adhering to a strict chain of command. Employees are not allowed to question these “orders” and can communicate with the leader only via established formal channels of communi­cation. Because today’s business organisation is flatter and has fewer manager and supervisor posi­tions, it is incumbent that you create and retain a personal connection with each employee who directly or indirectly reports to you. This is why coaching is so important and necessary to be a successful controller or CFO.

In coaching, the leader works each day to foster a personal and open relationship with each employee so that these human assets feel that they can come to you and tell you the truth when things are going well or going poorly. The communication channels used in coaching are more informal and dependent on continuous face-to-face interactions. If you are a good coach, you will find that employees trust you and believe in you and will do everything they can to ensure that you are successful. This occurs because you have repeatedly demonstrated to your employees that you believe they are valuable and want them to succeed.

Coaching is not controlling because you are the guide who allows your employees to determine the agenda and goals.

Coaching is not managing because you are using your knowledge and insights to help your employees come into their own wisdom.

Coaching is not micromanaging because you are not doing the work, but instead trusting your employees and letting them successfully stumble so they quickly learn to succeed.

Coaching is not supervising, because you can coach anybody; it does not need to be an employee. You can coach a boss, a colleague, a friend, or even a stranger. The process of coaching is consistent and, once you master it, you will find many ways to use it to help others become successful and effective.

For the rest of this article, the term coachee refers to the person you are coaching in order to empha­sise the importance of applying the skill of coaching beyond those for whom you are responsible.

Accountability Factor in Coaching

Because, as a leader, you are not commanding or demanding that your employees get the work done in the way that you want it done, you may feel that you will spend all your time microman­aging what employees do and say. This is not true. If you are a good coach, you will be transferring accountability for results to each of the employees whom you coach. That is what the coach does best -- transfer accountability for success back into the hands of the coachee.

As you coach people and establish a relationship of trust, you offer suggestions and ideas to help them be more productive and make their work life easier. Then the actual work is performed by the employee, who feels accountable to you for completing what he or she promised to do and meeting the quality you expect. If employees do not perform according to your expectations, they will feel embarrassed because you placed your trust in them and they let you down.

In the coaching relationship, you guide and shape the coachee’s behaviours in subtle and specific ways. You do this for the benefit of both the organisation and the employee, thereby requiring thatyou approach the relationship with sincerity and honour. You hold no hidden agenda. In effect, as coach, you are creating an environment in which the people who work for you want to win, yearn to feel successful, and enjoy doing their best.

Notice that a leader who uses the dictatorial command and control method of getting others to do the work will never create an environment in which people feel successful or care enough to win. Similarly, the leader who uses micromanaging to ensure that employees do everything right will never create an environment in which people enjoy doing their best or are accountable for their own successes and failures.

Specific Skills of a True Coach

  • Teaching
  • Counselling
  • Guiding
  • Learning
  • Sharing
  • Questioning
  • Relating
  • Listening
  • Intuitiveness
  • Creativity

Grade yourself on each skill, using this scale:

  1. I don’t have or practise the skill.
  2. I have some of the skill.
  3. I probably am average in relation to the skill.
  4. I get good results when I use the skill.
  5. I improved an employee’s performance using the skill.

This article has been excerpted from The Traits of Today’s CFO: A Handbook for Excelling in an Evolving Role. You can purchase the publication on CPA2Biz.com.

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Ron Rael, CPA, is a leadership coach and an award-winning speaker and facilitator who uses advanced learning techniques to deliver measurable, bottom-line results.