Hello to our wonderful community of Tech Leading Ladies! In our July meetup we dove into a topic that’s becoming increasingly significant in the world of leadership: coaching. Here’s a summary of the insights and key takeaways from our session.
What is Coaching?
Every single one of us, irrespective of our accomplishments, can benefit from a little guidance now and then. Think about it: even the world’s best athletes have coaches. Why? Because the power lies in observation. A coach offers an invaluable external perspective, allowing you to observe yourself from a different lens and carve a distinctive path forward.
Interestingly, coaching differs from mentoring. When you think of a mentor, think of someone who has ‘been there, done that’ – someone who shares experiences and tactics that have worked for them. However, a coach doesn’t necessarily need to have achieved what you aspire to. A classic example? Usain Bolt’s coach has never won a gold medal, yet his expertise has been instrumental in moulding one of the world’s fastest sprinters.
As leaders in tech, we need to embrace both roles. At different junctures, we will find ourselves wearing the hat of a mentor or that of a coach. Remember the book, “Trillion Dollar Coach”? It shed light on how major tech leaders had coaches guiding them through their journeys.
Why is Developing Coaching Skills Essential?
With the technological landscape evolving at a breathtaking pace, the rate of change is not just accelerating – it’s increasing exponentially. This relentless shift can lead to burnout and feelings of overwhelm. And if we glance at the Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) metrics, it’s clear that we’re lagging in effecting the change that matters. Now, more than ever, there’s a collective need to grow and tackle the world’s most pressing challenges. Here’s where coaching steps in: it’s a tool that catalyses enduring behavioural change.
The Three Cornerstones of Effective Coaching
- Active Listening: It’s a challenge in today’s digital age, where attention spans are dwindling. But to be an effective coach, one must be wholly present. It’s crucial to pick up on non-verbal cues, especially in a world moving towards remote work. Cultivate curiosity. When you listen, it shouldn’t be about jumping in with a solution or judgement. Instead, it’s about understanding. A handy tool? Paraphrase what the other person is saying and reflect it back.
- Socratic Questioning: Instead of directing a conversation towards a pre-set conclusion, ask open-ended questions. Ever heard of the “5 Whys” technique? It’s an approach that fosters self-agency in the person you’re coaching.
- Empathy: Its power is often understated. Empathy isn’t just about “feeling sympathy”. It’s about seeing a situation from another’s viewpoint and understanding their emotions. And yes, it’s entirely possible to be empathetic and objective simultaneously.
As we wrap up, let’s remind ourselves that in the dynamic world of tech, the ability to coach and be coached is no longer a luxury – it’s a necessity. It’s about elevating not just ourselves, but those around us.
Until our next meetup, keep leading, learning, and inspiring!