Transformational Coaches must role model openness and responsiveness to performance feedback from whatever source.
In “The One Minute Manager,” Ken Blanchard called feedback “the breakfast of champions” — an apt sports metaphor. Feedback is the primary way in which professional athletes learn about barriers that limit their performance. Most highly successful athletes hire not one, but several coaches, each with specialized training expertise and perspectives. They use their coaches’ feedback to create a performance benchmark against which they monitor progress and change. Their coaches make the difference between their success and failure. From athletes, we can learn to love feedback as a way of growing and developing to our full potential.
Role Modeling Self-Disclosure–
If coaches intend to lead others by example, the example must include self-disclosure. Self disclosure promotes an emotionally safe environment which is necessary to support a feedback-rich, high-performance culture. The coaches disclose appropriate things about themselves that other, less courageous leaders would not. They speak the unspeakable — they name their assumptions, their judgments, their fears, their agendas, and their beliefs. They share their experiences and they invite their coaches to do the same.
You can do this, too. First, share with others more of what makes you tick. What are your thoughts and feelings about what is actually happening in the company? If you are less protective and more open, vulnerable, and honest, you will begin to change the tone of communications from cautious protectionism to openness. Respectfully delivered, honest communications build trust.
Share more of your feelings about your work, including your hopes, joys, fears, and frustrations. This “feeling” content may make you more human and easier to connect with. Even riskier, on a personal basis, would be sharing what you are working on to improve your personal effectiveness. What are you learning about yourself from your feedback? What goals do you have to grow and develop professionally and as a human being? Obviously, use judgment in selecting the people with whom you share.
Second, ask for feedback. We all have blind spots in our attitudes, behaviors, and actions. We are not able to perceive clearly how we affect others in the various roles we play in our organizations. This information, if we could receive it with the right attitudes, could be immensely valuable in helping us to understand how to make positive changes in the ways in which we interact with others.
Asking for feedback is one of the most powerful actions you can take as a coach. Earnestly communicate your own desire to learn and grow as a person, as a professional, and as a coach. Let people know that you cannot do that in a vacuum. You need their feedback. Ask questions of your teammates that are personal and that promote learning.
Following are several example questions you can ask.
Questions Leading to Reinforcement:
–What am I doing that you find helpful?
–What behaviors should I keep doing?
–What are improvements you have seen me make?
–What aspects of my leadership/coaching are becoming better?
Questions Leading to Learning:
–What behaviors might be unclear or confusing?
–Do I send mixed signals to you or the team?
–Do you believe that I am on the right track?
Questions Leading to Change:
–What behaviors seem counterproductive or out-of-phase?
–What suggestions would you like me to consider?
–What behaviors could I consider stopping or starting?
Reflective Questions for the Coach:
–Am I listening and responding to feedback regarding my leadership effectiveness?
–Am I becoming less effective, more effective, or maintaining the status quo?
–Am I initiating informal requests for thoughts about my effectiveness as a coach?
–What does this feedback indicate for my coaching effectiveness?
–What am I learning about the coaching process?
–What are the key themes suggested by the feedback?
–What improvement steps might I take to enhance my coaching effectiveness?
–Where am I stuck and what support do I need to improve?
–How am I sharing what I’m learning about coaching with other members of my team?