In a recent podcast: Why Leadership and Coaching Skills are Inextricably Linked, we spoke with Katie Mapondera, Entrepreneur, Executive and Team Coach, who spoke about leadership and why it aligns with the resonant leadership style which uses coaching skills to bring out the best in their team. This newsletter is part 3 of a series of 3 shared over the last 6 weeks. If you haven’t read Part 1 or 2, follow these links:…..
Why Leadership and Coaching Skills are Inextricably Linked (Part 1)
Why Leadership and Coaching Skills are Inextricably Linked (Part 2)
At Empower World, we believe great leaders don’t have to have the answers to the challenges and opportunities they and their teams are aiming to work through. It is their role to unlock the potential and wisdom of the team by supporting, engaging, connecting, challenging and encouraging people to tap into what inspires them and brings out their resourcefulness aligning with the purpose and goals of the team. We believe this is true in both paid and volunteer organisations.
Katie, an experienced leader, shares her own experience in a non-profit organisation, “If you are going to motivate with fear, you are shutting down 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. And that's really where those coaching skills are so essential.”
It’s important to be curious with, as well as about, people, systems and situations and coach training taught me how to be curious explains Katie. Importantly she asks: "How do you exercise that as a leader? What does that look like in practice?"
Curiosity and understanding how to ask questions is one thing, but it's more than that, which Katie appreciates is one of her biggest learnings about being a leader. She says it’s about the connection you create with the person you're asking questions of when you are getting curious so that people feel safe to share. As leaders, we need to bring in coaching skills to explore and challenge the team to bring in their insights, tap into their wisdom and enable them to act on it.
“It's so important, I think, for leaders to become conscious and wake up because I think I was asleep. And I think many other leaders are asleep in terms of what is the actual impact of what they’re doing to your team,” says Katie.
Leadership is a skill set, which can be learned attests Katie. She says, by continuously learning and practicing specific communication and leadership skills, as well as adopting a mindset and an empowering approach - individuals, teams, organisations, and the wider systems can be transformed by bringing out the best in people.
“There is often an assumption ‘to lead these folks, I need to know how to do things better than they do because that's what makes me the leader… That's what secures my spot.'
“And because we have that notion, ‘we’ cling to trying to be on top and ahead of our team, when that particular mindset is actually repressing the strength of the team. And it is a signal that you're not leading at the level that would really transform the results of the organisation.
“I thought I was doing what was necessary to get results, and once I understood, not only was I doing the opposite of what would create the results that I wanted, I had team members experiencing needless fear… needless discomfort. I want people to know… if that's how you're leading right now, you can change, and you can grow.”
Every person is unique and what works for one person may not work for another, and perhaps there is a better way forward. Something Katie powerfully began to recognise as a young leader. She began to understand she had a team that worked for her that did have the answers, and when she understood that, they worked together and got curious together to find the way forward.
“If you notice yourself feeling like... 'I have to know more than everybody else, I have to have the answers, I have to be telling and teaching and talking down to people,' that's a signal that there's an opportunity for you to grow as a leader.
“And there's an opportunity for you to elevate yourself as a leader, because… the strength comes from the expertise and strongest capabilities and the team all coming together to create the best possible result,” says Katie in a reassuring way.
Katie say Steve Jobs, Apple Co-Founder, hired people who were smarter than him so that they could tell him what to do. She invites people in leadership roles to consider If they have people who have amazing ideas and who can do certain things faster and better, to lean into and on the strength of the team. This allows the leader to focus on the bigger picture and strategy and support the team to do what they do best.
Katie continues: If we empower our team using coaching skills to connect, create a safe place to work, support, listen, challenge and unlock our team’s potential, our team can potentially do their best work leaving more space for the leader to do their job even better.
When we talk about leadership and performance, it's the unseen leadership skills, such as working with emotions, mindsets and attitudes that make or break our results. So as both Katie and Empower World would say, it is imperative as a leader to be continuously learning and developing your craft as a leader and incorporating the soft skills of coaching (leadership, support, empowerment, relationship building, psychological safety and communication), which can significantly enhance a leader’s, team’s, organisation’s experiences and results.
Jeanine and Marie
Listen to Jeanine and Katie in the Empower World Coaching and Leadership Podcast Episode 194 🎙️
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