In a recent podcast: Why Leadership and Coaching Skills are Inextricably Linked, we spoke with Katie Mapondera, Entrepreneur, Executive and Team Coach, who shared very interesting perspectives on leadership and how it coincides very strongly with coaching and the resonant leader who uses coaching skills as a way of bringing out the best in their team.
This Newsletter is part 2 of a series of 3 to be shared over the next 6 weeks. If you haven’t read Part 1, click here!
At Empower World, we believe who we are and how we show up in the world strongly influences the teams we lead. In fact, we believe our teams are reflections of who we are being and how we lead.
To support this notion, Katie shares, “According to research, human beings are what we call open systems: we have a limbic system." This open loop limbic system is a way to communicate non-verbally via our emotions, energy and physiology at a conscious and unconscious level.
"So the way that we developed in order to survive in nature was to be able to connect with each other and communicate, and not just verbally. We communicate in very subtle ways that we don't even realise. And so a leader can have a particularly powerful influence on the system,” explains Katie.
Some interesting research Katie recalls was when a leader was closed in a room not interacting with their team, and the mood of the leader impacted the way that the team was feeling. Even though they didn't see the leader or weren't speaking to them, the energy of the leader was felt by and impacted the team in a way that didn't support their performance.
As Katie said, it speaks to how important it is for us to be aware that the unspoken, unseen aspects of ourselves can influence a system or a team and drive results in organisations. So if we as leaders understand this, as Katie did, we can choose to show up differently for our teams – in a way that is ecologically good for ourselves and good for the whole system which can positively impact the team's results.
With that knowledge, Katie chose to hold space for her team. In other words, she chose to believe in her team’s capability, provided them with an opportunity to have a strong voice, treated them with the utmost respect as human beings, and gave them permission to be vulnerable. This created a whole new dynamic within her team and lifted engagement, resourcefulness, creativity and accountability.
“I'm very passionate about this because I've invested a lot of time and practice in developing my awareness and understanding… When I first became a leader, I thought that leaders were born. I thought I was a natural leader because I could think of solutions,” says Katie.
Katie also vulnerably and courageously shared, “I could get people to do what I want them to do. But what I found was the performance was subpar, turnover was high, and there wasn't coherence in the team. There wasn't strong communication in the team. So the results were not what they could have been.”
What Katie recognised was that what she ultimately needed to learn about leadership was the ability to tap into people's mindset and energy, because that drives everything about how they're showing up to work. Effective leadership is holding the space to tap into what awakens team members and what gives them autonomy and independence as well as the ability to find their own way through the challenges with support, recognising sometimes it's necessary to provide clear direction in certain potentially high-risk situations.
A quote by Steven Covey comes to Katie's mind, who said: “You can buy a person’s hand, but you can’t buy his heart. You can buy his back, but you can’t buy his brain. That’s where his creativity is, his ingenuity, his resourcefulness. They volunteer the best part—their hearts and minds.”
Katie goes on to say, “Those are things that the employee volunteers, and so if you are going to motivate with fear, you are shutting down that volunteerism and you have converted that relationship into a purely transactional relationship. And you are not going to get the types of results that you're looking for. That's really where those coaching skills are so essential.
“If you want to bring someone to volunteer their passion and creativity, you need to be curious about them. And coaching, coach training teaches us how to be curious…how do you exercise that as a leader? What does that look like in practice?”
In summary, Katie explains it’s understanding how to ask questions, listen deeply to verbal and non-verbal language, and importantly, the kind of connection you are creating with the person you're communicating with so they feel safe and are able to be authentic, transparent, resourceful and brave. This supports how powerful coaching skills can make a difference in teams, relationships (including our relationship with ourselves), organisations and systems.
In essence, leaders who are willing to adopt the coaching style of leadership have a real opportunity to support high-performance and high-value-creating teams for much better experiences, engagement and output that is good for the whole system and the greater good.
Jeanine and Marie
Co-Founders of Empower World
Listen to Jeanine and Katie in the Empower World Coaching and Leadership Podcast Episode 194 🎙️
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