Leading with Principle-Centered Coaching
Connecting people with vision
Have you ever felt that as a leader you always have to have the answers? Do you hold a vision of your team members taking greater responsibility for their businesses and being more accountable? If your answer is a resounding Yes, then you are like I was before I discovered the incredible freedom and empowerment that comes with learning the “right” way to coach my team.
Because most of us in the direct-selling profession are self-motivated, optimistic, and somewhat driven people, we naturally carry with us the inclination to tell people what to do. After all, it is easier, faster, and usually produces results. However, when we take the position that we have all the answers, whether indirectly or directly, we inadvertently take upon ourselves the responsibility for our team members’ success or failure. Then when their businesses “don’t work,” who do they blame? Us! That’s the problem. Our goal therefore is to steer others to their own answers, causing them to take responsibility for their reasons and choices, and building their businesses with a sense of ownership.
Passing the torch
The good news is that coaching is a set of learned skills. These skills increase our ability to communicate effectively with our team, inspire them beyond what they thought possible, and develop other leaders within our organizations to continue the dream. They enable us to develop relationships of mutual respect, trust, and integrity. Modeling these skills, we empower them and give them ownership in the solution.
The next time a team member contacts you because she is frustrated in her efforts to get bookings, sales, or recruit leads, pause before you reply. Being the leader you are, you might be tempted to jump right in and tell her what she needs to do. That simple pause allows you to implement the Principle-Centered Coaching skills that increase your team member’s confidence and self-esteem, and empowers her to take action.
As you listen with your heart to her situation, you will be able to acknowledge specific efforts and character qualities, and respond with open-ended questions that help her tap into her own answers.
For example, after she shares her struggles to get bookings at parties, you respond with an acknowledgement. In the past you might have given her a compliment: “You’re awesome!” This time, you acknowledge her by saying, “Your desire to serve your customers is clear!” When you notice and highlight the specific strengths of her character, she understands that “I See You.” In pointing out who your team members are as individuals, you help them see themselves as they truly are, which increases their confidence and self-esteem.
Resisting the urge to tell her what she needs to do, you can move into open-ended questions. These questions illustrate your confidence in her ability to solve her own problem. She will gain clarity and insight, and begin to shift into seeing herself as the expert. In this example you may ask her a few questions to help her come to a solution that works for her.
“What would you do differently next time?”
“How would you ask differently next time?”
“If your guests have similar reactions at your next party, how will you respond differently?”
You’ll be amazed at the freedom you’ll feel and the wisdom that can come from the answers you receive. It won’t always be easy to stop simply providing solutions. However, you will find that it becomes easier as you practice, and especially when you observe what happens to your team!
As your team member solves her own problem, she gains confidence and ownership of the future action. Watch her professionalism, activity, and demeanor build as she practices and gains the positive results of her own solutions.
Your action plan
Can you see the difference between “telling” and “coaching?” Do you think your results and relationships might be different if you used coaching skills? It is a paradigm shift. I recommend that you start to make the transition by using these skills in the next 48 hours.
Begin with “I See You” Acknowledgements. Practice identifying at least two character traits in your team member that led to her achievement.
Next, practice the “You’re the Expert” Questions. Resist the urge to tell her what to do. Instead, ask what she could do or how she could do it to change the results.
This is an excerpt from the best selling book Build It Big – 101 Insider Secrets Form Top Direct Selling Experts, brought to you by the Direct Selling Women’s Alliance (DSWA). The DSWA provides industry-specific education, resources and support to direct sellers in more than twelve countries, representing over 275 companies. To learn how you can receive $850 in bonus gifts by ordering the Build It Big book, visit http://www.mydswa.org/bib.asp. To learn about the benefits of becoming a member of the DSWA, visit http://www.mydswa.org/member_program.asp.