Leaders Developing Employees: The Coaching Triangle

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In talking to Dan Markovitz, author of the new book Building the Fit Organization: Six Core Principles for Making Your Company Stronger, Faster, and More Competitive, I get the feeling that of the six principles in his book that the last chapter on The Coaching Triangle is the most important. An excerpt from this weeks Business901 Podcast:

Joe Dager:   You end the book discussing the Coaching Triangle; what is that?

Building the Fit OrganizationDan Markovitz:   That comes out of my experience both as an employee in a lot of different companies and as a coach myself. I used to be a high school cross country running coach. I was also a high school and college competitive runner. But we talk about coaching, and it’s important to understand that there are really three elements to it. Which as you said is what I call the ‘Coaching Triangle.’ One is certainly the notion of go and see, and that’s well known in the Toyota world. Go and see with your own eyes what’s happening. I think it’s important for any leader — if you’re going to coach, you can’t do it from the conference room, you can’t just call it in or phone it in; you really want to see what’s going on.

The second element is participation. I think that people can smell hypocrisy. They can smell a fake from a mile away. If you as a coach or leader are not participating in improvement, either the improvement that the employee is doing or your own improvement projects, people understand that you’re not really committed to it. You’re saying what’s good for the goose is not necessarily good enough for the gander. It’s good enough for you minions to be doing these things, but I’m not going to participating in it.

I think one of the reasons that the TV show Undercover Boss is so compelling is that you see these bosses, the CEO’s that are so in the dark about what’s actually happening in the front lines. But if you’re participating regularly in what people are doing – and regularly doesn’t have to be every day, maybe it’s every month, you don’t have the salacious details of the Undercover Boss where the CEO is finding out for the first time that people don’t have driver’s licenses in their logistics department or something, participating is really important.

The last thing, of course, is show respect and showing respect is not just the obvious ‘don’t be an insulting jerk.’ Although that’s certainly important, but also the showing respect is that Lean notion of respecting people’s ability to learn so that I am not going to give you the answer to something, even though it will be faster, and even though it will be easier, and even though we could take care of the problem much more quickly if I gave you the answer now. I’m going to respect your ability to figure out how to solve problems or to help you solve the problem for yourself. I’m respecting your innate talents and your ability and your desire to grow. That I think is in a lot of respect the hardest part of the coaching triangle because we want to be helpful.

The folks at the Lean Coaching Summit; they talk about this all the time. We want to be helpful; we want to be supportive, and so it’s so natural for us to say, “Here, let me show you how to do this.” “Here, let me tell you what the answer is.” But people aren’t really going to learn unless they do it on their own unless they can struggle through it. It’s really difficult for us to short-circuit our innate desire to do it quickly, to do it easily and to be helpful. And those three elements – the go and see, participate, and show respect, those are the three elements that I call the Coaching Triangle.

CAP-Do (More Info): What makes CAP-Do so attractive is that it assumes we do not have the answers. It allows us to create a systematic way to address the problems (pain) or opportunities (gain) from the use of our products and services.

Lean Marketing eBooks (More Info): Excerpt from the Lean Marketing House

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Joseph Dager
Business901 is a firm specializing in bringing the continuous improvement process to the sales and marketing arena. He has authored the books the Lean Marketing House, Marketing with A3 and Marketing with PDCA. The Business901 Blog and Podcast includes many leading edge thinkers and has been featured numerous times for its contributions to the Bloomberg's Business Week Exchange.

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