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Bad Bosses Bark Out Orders, Good Bosses Coach Their Teams

Bad Bosses Bark Out Orders, Good Bosses Coach Their Teams

The 80/20 rule roughly states that the 80% of the value of what you are doing will be derived from the final 20% of the effort you put in. If you apply this principle to the task of leadership, that final 20% falls to the role of being a Coach. As leaders, we can learn that first 80% from blogs and books until we reach the last 20% gray area, coaching.

Effective coaching can make the team grow fast through self-reflection

While a Leader focuses on the here and the present, the coach is concerned with focusing on the future (what do you need to do) and the past (what could you have done better).

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Think of a good sports coach – they will discuss strategies with their team before they take the field and talk to them on the bench, but when they are on the field, they are not running beside them telling them what to do, that’s the role of the on the field Leader. Some leaders struggle with moving from a hands-on leadership to a coaching model where they can no longer control and/or influence the outcome but instead must sit back and watch the employee’s action unfold for themselves and work with them, post actions to set them up for success the next time.

In working with employees there are three tenets where a Coach needs to focus on to be successful.

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A good coach listens before speaking

A coach needs to listen to their employee before they speak. The easiest way to get this conversation going is to ask them “What do you think?” and wait and wait and wait. A good coach will not respond for at least 10 – 15 seconds and if nothing is said will simply reiterate the question or rephrase it. But they will not offer up their opinions or ideas until they have heard from their employees and have had them establish the direction for which the communication will occur.

By letting your employees speak first, the coach has established a level in trust in putting the needs and thoughts of the employee’s before their own with the hope that the employee can be more forthcoming in their responses. By introducing the “awkward pauses” of silence the employee will begin to realize that the onus is on them to speak first before either can move forward.

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A good coach asks the right and necessary questions

There are no right questions – there is only the coach and the employee – trying to establish a relationship of trust from which they can continue to build on. In the role of coach, when working with an employee, I will always have a notebook (not laptop or phone) with me to record what they are saying so I can start to draw the lines of the cause of any issues they might be having and filter out the symptoms. Visually this helps me so I can see everything laid out but this also helps the employees I talk to for one reason – “they can see everything I am writing is about them and this piques their interest”. If I were to record everything they were saying on my laptop or phone it would have a very different affect – on my laptop, there is a barrier between us where they cannot see what I am doing and only assume that my furious typing is for them, with a phone, the device is so small and close to my face, for all they know I could be playing a game.

If you don’t have a notebook, use a markerboard, this is another great tool that not only let’s you visualize the issues and determine the questions you need to ask and the cues you need to prompt for but let’s the employees see the pattern in their words to perhaps start asking their own questions.

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A good coach becomes the guide for others

The evolution of leadership is that of a guide. A guide knows the lay of the land and has a good idea of what should be done but they are there in a supporting role, they are there to bring the group back on track should they stray, they are not there to lead the way and do it all. Think back to the last time you had a guide on a trip – did they tell you everywhere you needed to go, where to step, what do to and what to eat? No, they gave you suggestions on directions, steered you when you veered off the path a little too far (but giving you room to explore) and only jumped in when you were about to eat something poisonous.

The same applies to a coach and employee relationship. The coach is there as a guide to help insulate the employee from catastrophic failure while letting the employee wander and try new ideas that could lead to some level of success or failure.

A good coach knows when to step back and urge an employee to give their idea a whirl, protecting them from the fall.

If you’re in a coaching relationship, either as the employee or the coach, and these principles are not in place, you will have a hard time establishing the level of foundation and trust necessary to help your employees grow. It’s from this foundation, this navigation of the grey areas that the really great coaches thrive in and turn good employees great. If done properly, the success of this relationship will be realized when the employee being coached has grown into a leader able to recognize that their success as a leader and as their team will not be measured by their overall deliverable strategy but by their ability to coach their employees through that final 20%.

More by this author

Greg Thomas

Software Architect

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Last Updated on October 15, 2018

How to Calm Down When You Are Overwhelmed: 7 Quick Ways to Try

How to Calm Down When You Are Overwhelmed: 7 Quick Ways to Try

Do you sometimes feel that you add items to your to-do list faster than you tick them off? Do you spend most of your day worrying about your lack of time?

The truth is, no matter how much we love our job, or how productive we believe we are under stress, there comes a moment when the pressure rises above boiling point. The sheer number of urgent tasks multiplies in a geometric progression. New possibilities no longer sound inspiring, they sound overwhelming and equal more work.

If that’s where you are right now – keep reading! If not, it doesn’t mean you should wait until you get there to learn how to cope with a demanding work schedule and how to calm yourself down quickly when you feel overwhelmed.

Here are 7 quick and easy tips on how to calm down when you are overwhelmed:

1. Let go of a few activities

Yes, it’s that easy! Take a look at your to-do list and ask yourself, “If I don’t do it today, will it matter a month from now?”

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Not every urgent task is important. Just like not every important, high pay-off task is urgent. The best way to keep yourself from getting overwhelmed and to manage your time is to know the difference between the two and learn to simplify your life by getting your to-do list down to three big tasks.

2. Take deep breaths to calm down

This advice sounds so simple it’s often overlooked. But it works better (and faster) than any other relaxation technique out there.

There is a direct connection between our emotional state and breathing. An anxious, frustrated or overwhelmed person breathes as if they have just finished running a marathon. A calm person breathes differently. Their breathing is deep, slow and steady. So when you have a panic attack, the best way to bring your heart rate down and to regain your cool is to change your breathing.

Try this now:

Take a slow, long deep breath in, filling your lungs with air and expanding your diaphragm. Hold your breath for four counts and then slowly release the air through your mouth. Repeat four times and notice frustration and the feeling of being overwhelmed dissolve with each long exhale of these calming breaths.

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3. Make “Just one thing” your mantra

When we feel overwhelmed by the amount of tasks on our to-do list, it’s easy to enter the ‘deer in the headlights’ state. You see deadlines approaching directly towards you, and you know that something has to be done about them, but you just don’t know where to start.

The best way to get your mind out of an ‘inactivity trance’ is to create momentum. This is what makes the “Just one thing” mantra so powerful. It helps to change our expectation that everything has to be completed right now, “or else.”

Next time you feel overwhelmed make grabbing a cup of coffee your “Just one thing.” You can do it, right? Then come back, pick one of the smallest tasks on your to-do list and tell yourself you’ll do just that one task. This is your next “Just one thing” that you will concentrate on until it’s complete. After that you can move on to the next task and so on.

It’s not “One thing at a time.” Saying this implies that there is a huge line of other tasks waiting to get done and that’s not the message you want to keep repeating to yourself. Learn how to focus here and stop getting overwhelmed.

4. Reduce the multi-tasking and multi-thinking

It’s been proven that multi-tasking is very inefficient, to the point of dumbing us down (more than smoking marijuana does). The same is true for multi-thinking, when your mind frantically jumps from one thought to another, trying to focus on and analyze several things all at once.

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Fortunately, there is help. A few minutes of meditation or brainwave music is all it takes to start feeling more relaxed, more creative and less overwhelmed.

5. Get moving

Any exercise you engage in – be it walking or dancing to your favorite beat – helps to release endorphins, the ‘feel-good’ hormones, through your body and to clear your mind.

Staying active also increases your productivity, enhances your ability to combat stress and anxiety. It also helps you to release the tension, boosting your mood and changing the thoughts that induce the sense of being overwhelmed.

The best part is you don’t have to spend hours in the gym to get the mind-soothing benefits of exercise. Even as little as 15 minutes of dancing or jogging can go a long way towards making you feel better and staying calmer.

6. Change your surroundings

We all need and deserve to take vacations from work woes and family responsibilities. Unfortunately, spending two weeks lazing on a beach, toes in the sand and a Mojito in hand, is not always an option. However, this doesn’t mean that we can’t take short ‘vacations’ from work stress and the technology buzz.

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Go outside for a few minutes and enjoy the sunshine. Stop at a park instead of driving straight home from work. Sometimes changing your surroundings and ‘spicing up your routine’ is all it takes to change your perspective on things and find creative solutions to seemingly complex and overwhelming problems.

7. Get some pet therapy

Studies have shown what most of us already guessed – our pets can be a great help during stressful moments. Simple actions such as petting or playing with your dog or cat can lower high blood pressure, boost your immune system and boost your mood.

Besides, pets can make the best conversation partners to share your frustrations with. They listen, they love you unconditionally and they never talk back or say, “I told you so.”

Final thoughts

Don’t wait for stress to hit you to start practicing these quick ways to calm down when you are overwhelmed. The best way to enjoy a worry-free life is not to push yourself to the limit of being overwhelmed and frustrated.

Featured photo credit: Dardan via unsplash.com

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