Great leadership often means helping others arrive at solutions – in other words – not telling them what to do but rather, guiding them towards positive solutions.  This approach is sometimes referred to as “Socratic coaching” (coaching strategies inspired by the Greek philosopher Socrates) where successful outcomes begin by asking the right questions.  If coaching others leads to improved communication and business performance, what are some ways leaders can inspire and develop those around them?

“The foundation of all successful coaching is surely an open, trusting relationship with a healthy reservoir of goodwill on both sides.” – Max Landsberg | Leadership expert

To become a great leader and inspiring coach, Max Landsberg, author of The Tao of Coaching, offers lessons in the art of realizing the potential of your employees, your company and yourself.  To boost your effectiveness by inspiring and developing those around you, consider two lessons from Landsberg’s book.

Leaders: Inspire and Develop Others | 2 Lessons

You Can’t Be a Leader Without a Following
Your effectiveness as a leader derives from your ability to nurture, develop and retain talent. Most large companies are removing levels from their hierarchy – “delayering” – and are competing to attract and nurture only the most promising workers. Employees know that some organizations have strong coaching cultures, and they prefer to work for these organizations. With the rapid changes in markets and technology, you cannot wait for an annual training seminar to keep your team members up-to-date. Nurturing talent frequently saves valuable time in the long run. You can no longer simply tell someone how to do a job. You must coach and a mentor staff members. Leaders who are determined to excel also seek coaching for themselves. Team members should teach and learn new, worthy skills and habits from each other. If you become a great coach, people will want to work for and with you, and your relationships will improve.

Ask Questions – Don’t Just Tell
Leaders who hurry back to their own work never turn out to be good coaches. To be a great coach, ask the right questions. This helps guide the people you’re coaching towards discovering their own best answers, the time frame and their own skills.  In each interaction, coaches must decide whether to offer instructions, suggestions or leading questions – or something in between. If a task is critical and inaccuracy might prove disastrous, an immediate, controlling response is best. Where you have time and room for interpretation, your technique might be more open-ended and ultimately empowering for others.

The best coaches are those who are coachable.  How will you apply these two lessons to inspire those around you this week?