While teaching coaching skills for more than a decade I’ve witnessed firsthand the massive shifts in how leaders communicate after receiving a little training. Yet, I was still surprised by the study reported in Harvard Business Review called “Most Managers Don’t Know How to Coach People. But They Can Learn.” The findings are so dramatic, I want every leader, manager, and organization to be aware of them. Here’s what the study uncovered and my take on it.
Consulting and Micromanaging is the Default Leadership Style
The study began by asking managers to have a short coaching conversation on the topic of time management. Videos were made of these conversations. The managers, their peers, and expert coaches were then asked to evaluate the manager-coaches based on these coaching qualities:
- giving feedback
- assisting with goal setting
- showing empathy
- letting the coachee arrive at their own solution
- recognizing and pointing out strengths
- providing structure
- encouraging a solution-focused approach
Expert coaches watched the videos of the managers coaching and evaluated them. In large part, the managers gave advice or a solution. The authors of the study called it micromanaging-as-coaching. The managers thought they were coaching and rated themselves as such. This first finding demonstrates the default coaching behavior among untrained managers is a consulting, advising, or micromanaging style.
Coaching that is consulting isn’t going to produce excellent coaching results.
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