Leaders Need to be Great Coaches

Nov 14, 2016

Are you a great coach?  Do you know when and how to help your direct report move forward on a project or correct course toward a goal?

You and your employee are a team.  You have assigned him or her a project that will get your entire team or organization closer to its goals. In that context, the two of you become a team working together to successfully complete that project.

As the leader, one of your most important roles on the ‘team’ is to provide coaching to make sure the project is running smoothly and remains on course.  Here are some tips on how to be an effective coach to your team members.

  1. Meet regularly one-on-one to talk over how the project is going and to make sure it is on schedule. A weekly meeting on the calendar helps make this happen.

  2. Make sure the timeline for the project is still on track, or work together to develop a new timeline.

  3. Ask the following questions:

  • How is the project moving forward?
  • Are you hitting any roadblocks? If so, how can we work together to remove them?
  • Do you have the tools you need to be successful?
  • How are you feeling about the project?
  • Are you getting the cooperation you need from others?
  • What is working well? What are your frustrations?
  • What can we do to remove or reduce the frustrations?
  • Do you think this is headed in the right direction?
  • Is there anything that can be tweaked to make this more effective?
  • What are you learning as a result of this work?
  • What are your next steps and do you know how to do them?
  • How can I help you be more successful?
  1. Remind yourselves as a team why this project is important—keep the vision in the forefront.

  2. Be a cheerleader by expressing confidence in your direct report’s skills and ability.

  3. Point out in a positive manner things that you see could be done more effectively. Teach how to do it better.

  4. Follow through on any commitments you make to assist on the project.

  5. Make sure those in charge (your boss and your boss’s boss) and others on your team are aware of where the project is and what progress is being made.

  6. Celebrate successes along the way-make sure your fellow team member (your direct report) gets all the credit.

Remember, you also are there to provide any support or anything else you can to assist your team member. This includes rolling your sleeves up and doing some of the work, when appropriate.

If your team member fails on a project, as the leader, it is in great measure, your failure as a leader and coach in providing the right kind of support and environment so he or she can succeed. Blaming them for failure is simply wrong.

That’s why it is important for you as a leader to be a great coach.


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