Learning to be a Heliotropic, Positive-Energizer Coach is a Learnable Skill!

Today, rapid, constant, and disruptive change is the norm, and what succeeded in the past is no longer a guide to what will succeed in the future. Twenty-first-century managers simply don’t (and can’t!) have all the right answers. To cope with this new reality, the most successful leaders are becoming heliotropic, positive-energizer coaches, moving away from historical practices of traditional command-and-control leadership styles. The best leaders are using a model of giving support and guidance rather than instructions. Today’s team members and employees need to be positively guided to learn how to adapt to constantly changing environments in ways that unleash fresh energy, innovation, and commitment.

When we talk about coaching, we mean something broader than helping your team members build their personal and professional skills. The coaching we’re talking about is the kind that creates a true learning organization, with ongoing execution to adapt to and be ahead of constant change.

What do Heliotropic, Positive-Energizer Leaders Do?

• Give five “attaboys” to one “What were you thinking?” This stems from Dr. John Gottman’s notable research on marriage and couples, which found that stable marriages have a 5:1 ratio of positivity to negativity during conflict. Applicable to professional relationships as well, it is important to acknowledge the positive and make people feel great a majority of the time in order to be a good leader.
• Engage with all team members, all the time, in ways that help define the organization’s culture and advance its mission.
• Ask questions instead of provide answers.
• Support team members instead of judge them.
• Facilitate team members’ development instead of dictate what has to be done.
• Ask questions in a way that sparks insight within team members.
• Unlock team members’ potential, maximizing what they do well.
• Be an Olympic Listener, don’t tell and sell.
• Invite team input, don’t just work to get an agreement on what you already decided.
• Be present in the conversation, stop what you are doing and make eye-contact.
• Be compassionate.
• Be Kind.
• Apologize well.
• Do all the good you can!

Research shows that many managers are unenthusiastic about coaching, but feel they are already pretty good at it. Many are not effective coaches. In one study, 3,761 executives assessed their own coaching skills, and then their assessments were compared with those of people who worked with them. The results didn’t align well. Twenty-four percent of the executives significantly overestimated their abilities, rating themselves as above average while their colleagues ranked them in the bottom third of the group. That’s a telling mismatch. “If you think you’re a good coach but you actually aren’t,” the authors of the study wrote, “this data suggests you may be a good deal worse than you imagined.”

Coaching is no longer just a form of sharing what you know with somebody. For leaders who are accustomed to tackling performance problems by telling people what to do, a coaching approach often feels too “SUNNY.” Traditional leadership styles focus on the main management tool being to assert your authority. It is easy to say, “this is what I have always done as a leader,” and to resist being a heliotropic, positive-energizer coach.

I hope this blog helps inspire you to make intentional efforts to move from traditional leadership styles, that are today considered being “SALTY” and be “SUNNY” instead. Make intentional efforts each day to become a heliotropic, positive-energizer coach rather than simply telling people what to do. We encourage you not to make excuses like;

• “I’m too busy”
• “This isn’t the best use of my time”
• “The people I’m saddled with aren’t coachable”

Knowing isn’t doing –ask your team often, “How am I doing as your coach?” Learning to be a heliotropic, positive-energizer coach, is a learnable skill! Being a heliotropic, positive-energizer coach requires training yourself to think in new ways about what your role and values are as a leader. It takes moment-to-moment effort and practice, practice, practice! You will make mistakes, but all you need to do is stop, reflect, and do the next right thing.

I hope this was helpful!