8Coaching Skills

When we asked our clients to let us study their best managers (in terms of their ability to catalyze engagement and performance), the number one skill that stood out among these masterful managers is coaching. In fact, coaching skills are the very foundation of great leadership. This multifaceted tipping point skill also spills over into countless domains, including every skill we'll present in this book and many others (like influence, negotiation, persuasion, and conflict resolution). To become a great manager faster, focus on becoming a great coach faster.

What Coaching Is (and Isn't)

Schematic illustration of Deblur icon. Let’s begin by Deblurring what coaching is. Many of us hear the word “coach” and conjure images of sports coaches shouting from the sidelines, eyes bulging, and spit flying. But coaching in the modern workplace is different. There are fewer statements, more questions, and (usually) less spit. In short, coaching is the process of helping people develop capacity to achieve results.

Unlike directing or advising, coaching is all about catalyzing insights within others. As a visual representation of the difference between directing and coaching (which is also a key difference between average and great managers), imagine two boxing trainers watching their fighters in the ring. One trainer is shouting and gesticulating wildly. The other trainer is sitting back and observing in silence. ...

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