Second Crack — The Leadership Podcast

Coaching Skills for Leaders And How to Overcome the Obstacles

January 26, 2024 Gerrit Pelzer, Martin Aldergård Episode 30
Second Crack — The Leadership Podcast
Coaching Skills for Leaders And How to Overcome the Obstacles
Show Notes Transcript

Applying coaching skills as a leader is one of the best ways to develop people and boost employee engagement. And in fact, many leaders have attended "coaching skills for leaders" or "manager as a coach" trainings. Why then, we might ask, is not everyone in every organisation fully engaged, yet. Is coaching not working, after all?

We are convinced coaching does work, but there are factors that keep leaders from applying them.

What is coaching?

Coaching should not be seen as a remedy to fix underperformance. Coaching is not about telling people hat to do. According to Sir Joh Whitmore, "Coaching is unlocking a person’s potential to maximise their own performance. It is helping them to learn rather than teaching them."

A simple recipe for applying coaching skills at work: tell less, listen more, ask powerful questions — and all this on a foundations of trust-based relationships.

Tell less: Leaders can’t have all the answers; instead, they need to utilise the collective intelligence of the people.

Listen more: Listening is more powerful than most people think. Who people feel listened to, they feel taken seriously as a person, and this in itself can boost motivation.

Ask powerful questions: Asking triggers thinking, taps into a person’s own intelligence and leverages potential. It can create buy-in and build self-leadership. Good questions are open and often start with "how" or "why." They encourage solution-focused thinking rather than analysing problems.

Trust: Coaching is not a mechanical process. The relationship between coach and coachee is as important as a the “technique”. Without trust, coaching won’t work. Seeing the other person full of potential  removes the obstacles that keep them for utilising their potential.

Not every situation at work calls for coaching though. Coaching is for longer-term development, and also depends on a persons "readiness."

Leaders can apply coaching skills informally during 1:1 interactions or team meetings, or in a more formal coaching setting.

It is paramount for leaders to invest the time necessary for coaching to work. This can be challenging because while coaching is important, it rarely ever becomes urgent.

Lastly, there is no shortcut to mastery in using coaching skills for leaders. You can't become perfect without passing the beginner stage during which you need to live with making mistakes and learning from them.

Reflection Questions for Leaders:

  • Suppose a miracle happened overnight, and all these obstacles that prevent you from using more coaching at work are removed. How will you start discovering that the miracle actually happened?  And after that then, what will you be doing then that you are not doing now?
  • On a scale of 1 to 10, how confident are you today that your team members are capable to deliver outstanding work? Now, suppose you fully believed that your team members are truly full of potential. How would you then interact differently with them? 
  • How satisfied are you with the proportion of time that you spend as a leader in the urgent but not important quadrant versus the not urgent but important quadrant?

More info about us and our work is also on our website secondcrackleadership.com
Do you have any questions, feedback, or suggestions for us? Would you like to explore how we can help you to drive results in your organisations through a company-wide initiative or individual executive coaching? Then email us at hello@secondcrackleadership.com.

To connect with us on LinkedIn:
Martin Aldergård
Gerrit Pelzer 

Second Crack – The Leadership Podcast (Episode 30)

This transcript is AI-generated and may contain typos and errors.

[00:00] Gerrit: And to me, the answer to this question, and also the key to becoming an autonomy supporter as a leader, we can use coaching skills.

[00:12] Martin: But Gerrit, this is such an age old recommendation, and I think we've been talking about coaching skills for a long, long time, and many leaders have been in coaching for leader training, and still you get this question, and still I have a sense that it's hard to apply coaching skills, or the coaching approach, in everyday leadership.

[00:49] Gerrit: A warm welcome to episode number 30 of Second Crack -The Leadership Podcast. If you are new to the show, this is where we explore everyday leadership dilemmas and paradoxes, and where we invite you, dear listener, to self reflect. I am Gerrit Pelzer, I work as an executive coach and I bring to my coaching a combination of western science and Asian wisdom.

[01:14] Gerrit: Joining me today, as always, is my dear friend and business partner, Martin Aldergard. Martin specializes in driving change and transformation within organizations and what we have in common is that we always put people at the center of our work. Hi Martin, how are you today?

[01:33] Martin: Hi, Gerrit, I'm fine today, and it's good to be recording with you again. And you remember in December last year, our episode, we talked about motivation and we want to pick up from there actually, and to continue on that topic. And what can leaders really do to fully engage the teams, to drive initiative, to drive motivation. And we talked a lot about Daniel Pink's findings: the importance of autonomy, mastery, and purpose at work.

[02:09] Gerrit: Yeah, that's right. And whenever I talk with people about this approach by Daniel Pink, it resonates very well with them. And one suggestion here was that leaders must not be bosses in the traditional sense, and instead, they need to become autonomy supporters. And it actually links nicely to a recent coaching conversation I had, where a Managing Director asked me, "you know, how can I get people to take more initiative?"

[02:41] Gerrit: And to me, the answer to this question, and also the key to becoming an autonomy supporter as a leader, we can use coaching skills.

[02:53] Martin: But Gerrit, this is such an age old recommendation, and I think we've been talking about coaching skills for a long, long time, and many leaders have been in coaching for leader training, and still you get this question, and still I have a sense that it's hard to apply coaching skills, or the coaching approach, in everyday leadership.

[03:21] Gerrit: Yeah, and I think you could also ask the question, I would say there was really a wave a couple of years back where there was a high demand for these coaching skills trainings for leaders. And indeed, I think many people have attended such trainings. So you would wonder, why is not everybody in every organization fully engaged yet? And I think one aspect of it is that what may seem easy in this training turns out then to be not so easy to apply in real life. So it could be that an organization, they sent their whole leadership team for such a training, but then there is no clear plan to implement what people have learned.

[04:07] Gerrit: Or when individual leaders try to apply these techniques, they try something and then they realize, ah, it's not working as expected. And then they have no support, right? They have not like, professional coaches have, they often work with a supervisor and when leaders don't have somebody who can help them along the way, they can easily give up. 

[04:30] Gerrit: And I think today we want to explore in more detail: what is keeping people from applying coaching skills at work. I would suggest before we go into these details, just a quick note. If you are enjoying our podcast, you can support our work by recommending Second Crack to a friend or colleague. And of course, if you haven't done so yet, you can subscribe to the podcast, which is completely free and ensures that you will never miss out on the latest episodes.

[05:02] Martin: And, before we go into the challenges and what we can actually do to apply what we learn about coaching, perhaps it's good to just recap what is coaching or how should we understand coaching in the context here of everyday leadership.

[05:18] Gerrit: Yes, Martin, that's a good point, because still today I see there are a lot of different, what should I say, interpretations about what coaching is, and I think it's important to clarify how we look at coaching in general and in our episode today. And still nowadays, I encounter situations where, let's say, an employee is not performing very well, and then somebody has almost like a disrespectful comment, "yeah, Tony needs some coaching." And when people use coaching like this, there are often two implications. One is they look at coaching as a remedy for low performance. And often it's more about telling people what to do, let me show him how it's done. But I think what we really need here is a change of mindset because that is not how I look at coaching at all.

[06:16] Gerrit: Actually, a question I ask people often is, well, how many of the top tennis players in the world have a coach? And the answer is, of course, well, everybody, right? And do they need a coach because they're not good at playing tennis? No, of course not, right? They are very good already. They want to make sure they really utilize their full potential. So in other words, the same applies at work. Coaching is not to fix underperformance. Coaching is  kind of a reward. It's there to help people really utilize their full potential. Yeah.

[06:56] Gerrit:   And I think maybe we don't want to go too much into definitions of coaching, but I think one that still resonates well with me is an older one from Sir John Whitmore, and he said that "coaching is unlocking a person's, a person's potential to maximize their own performance. It is helping them to learn, rather than teaching them". And I think even though this definition is rather short, it's very rich. So we see here it's about unlocking a person's potential. Often when people don't utilize their full potential it's somehow blocked. And when we can unlock this, obviously then the performance gets better. And the second part, that coaching is not about teaching; it's helping them to learn. So coaching is there to inspire others. It's not about finding a solution for them.

[07:58] Martin: Mmm, mmm The potential is already within the person and it's, it's helping that person to discover that and see what is blocking. 

[08:09] Gerrit: Exactly. 

[08:10] Martin: And as a coach,  your, your analogy with a tennis player, as a coach, I would never be able to play as good tennis as the person I'm coaching. So my job is not really to exactly tell the person how to do it, but helping them to find the way.

[08:30] Gerrit: That's a nice explanation, yes.

[08:32] Martin: Should we go into some of the basic elements just to give it some structure and then we can elaborate on the challenges.

[08:39] Gerrit: Yes, I think for those who have not attended the Leader as a Coach training yet, or for those who need maybe a refresher, I would like to start with a very basic formula for coaching. It just has three very simple sounding elements: Tell less, listen more, and Ask more powerful questions. And maybe I would like to add one thing, and that's the foundation for this. The foundation of all this is trust. 

[09:10] Gerrit: And, if I start with the first one, tell less, like you just said, the leader is often not the expert in a particular field. So, the leader can't have all the answers. And even if, I mean, I know there are leaders who think they have all the answers and they think maybe the best way forward is telling others what to do. But there's another problem with that, and that is getting the buy in. Let's say if I was your boss and I told you to execute a certain plan and then you would do it and suddenly it doesn't work so well. You can easily take the way out, "yeah, but boss, you told me so, it's your fault that it doesn't work."

[09:57] Gerrit: But if you then get a person to find their own solution, and then they go, apply it, and it doesn't work so well. Then often they will put in the extra effort to prove other people that they can solve it. So, telling often does not help.

[10:20] Martin: And, the paradox here is, of course as leaders, we want to empower our team members, we want them to take initiative, to drive, we don't want to spend all our day fixing problems for our team members.

[10:35] Gerrit: Yep.

[10:36] Martin: And still who do we hear talking the most in meetings? It's the manager. So, this instinct of talking, I think, is strong within most managers, yeah. And obviously for us as doing a podcast, the talking is also a very strong point,

[10:58] Martin: yeah. 

[10:59] Gerrit: I made a great effort listening to you right now.

[11:02] Martin: Yeah, and, then talking about listening, I mean, all this, like attentive listening, it's, we heard it all. And, can you elaborate on that? Mm,

[11:14] Gerrit: First of all, I think people need to experience it, gain the insight that real listening, deep listening is extremely powerful. I would say much more powerful than most people think. What does this deep listening, real listening mean? Very often, it's just this: being fully present. and really attuned to what the other person is saying. What often gets into the way here is everybody is busy, we have no time or we might not really be interested in what the other person is saying. Or like you just said, maybe as a leader, we also may feel we need to prove our value, we think we know better, right, or also while listening, we are thinking already about what we are going to say next.

[12:08] Gerrit: But I think I would like to take an example from personal life and imagine you have a huge problem. And then you go and meet with a friend and talk about the problem. Your friend might not be able to solve the problem, but often when there is this friend who you trust, who you maybe have known for a long time, when they are really listening it already eases the pain. And maybe in a work context, it might not necessarily be around easing a persons pain, it might very well be, but often the key aspect here is that, when people feel listened to, they feel taken seriously. They feel they matter. And that is a huge element of motivation. 

[13:04] Martin: In my experience, also looking at my own personal experience, I think it's, it's not a bad intention that we don't want to listen. I think one aspect might be that it's this willingness to help. We want to help. And we feel good when people come to us and ask for advice and ask for support.

[13:30] Martin: So perhaps we're listening to advice. So, and then of course, at least in my case, my brain is in analysis mode as soon as I start to listen. Can I find a solution? What am I hearing? And as soon as an idea pops up in my head, I interrupt and I start to come with my own conclusions.

[13:57] Gerrit: Yeah, and Martin, also, also the person who asks you, I would not say forces you, but pushes you in this telling mode because often what happens also in my executive coaching sessions, people say, "Oh, this is the situation. This is my problem. How can I solve it?" And when people phrase a question like this, of course, it's easy to jump into making suggestions. And then we need to remember, okay, maybe this is not the best approach right now, how can I turn this around and, maybe ask a question instead?

[14:31] Martin: right. It feels almost uncomfortable on different levels to answer a question with another question, it's not intuitive, right. And I think this is where we really need to trust the process again. When we're coaching, we've got to stop advising, we've got to have our, switch on our curiosity, to listen. 

[14:58] Gerrit: That's right. I would like to add maybe one more thing before we go to the questions as I said already when it comes to how to listen, being fully present, that means make sure there are no distractions. Turn your phone off. If it's in an office setting, leave, leave the desk or close the laptop so that there are no alarms or emails popping up.

[15:19] Gerrit: I think we also need to make an intentional effort to be open and not judgmental. This often sounds easy, but, typically when another person says something, we quickly judge it, right? It's how our brain operates. But really going into this conversation with the intention of being not judgmental helps.

[15:42] Gerrit: And another aspect in intention is extremely important. We touched on this in an earlier episode as well. And that is believing that the other person is full of potential. If you interact with somebody and your attitude is that the other person does not have the necessary skills or the potential to excel in their work.

[16:07] Gerrit: This will be subconsciously reflected in your behavior, in your body language, tone of voice, and, and, and, and the other person may be able to pick it up. If you look at the other person, as if they were full of potential, then it's more likely they realize their potential. As I said once, if you believe that your people can be heroes, it increases the chances that they will turn into heroes.

[16:36] Martin: Now about this asking questions, this topic of asking powerful questions. It's also something we learn in all the training.

[16:44] Gerrit: Yeah, indeed. Why should we ask more? It starts with very basic things: the other person may have more information than you have as a leader. In fact, when you are dealing with experts, certainly they have more information than you. I often tell my coaching clients, "you know, we could talk for 100 hours, you would always know more about what you're dealing with than I", so I can't solve the problem for them.

[17:14] Gerrit: When we ask people, it also triggers their thinking. It creates buy- in, and there's a, there's a famous saying that the key to change is not just knowing what to do. It's being motivated to do it, yeah? And people are motivated to carry out their own ideas and solutions. So this relates to what I said earlier, when somebody else tells me what to do, I'm maybe not so motivated. If I'm asked, well, how would you approach it? It triggers my thinking, I come up with a solution, and that dramatically increases my motivation to solve it accordingly.

[17:56] Martin: It, drives both the sense of autonomy.

[17:59] Gerrit: Yes.

[18:00] Martin: Because I feel more empowered, I feel ownership of the solution. And of course it also develops me because I, I will come up with new ideas. So it really, uh, thinking about autonomy and mastery and purpose, asking good questions drives those three aspects.

[18:20] Gerrit: Yeah. If I can just add on to what you just said. So we could also say it builds self- leadership because you move people away from depending on your answers and they come up with their own solutions. And I think this is where we already closed the circle where we started, right? How can I get people to take initiative? Yeah. Maybe by asking questions.

[18:43] Martin: Mm-Hmm. and then very simple, what is a good question?

[18:49] Gerrit: Yeah, in the coaching world, we often talk about "powerful questions". What makes a question powerful or good indeed? It's not easy to answer. I would perhaps start again with the basics: a good question is an open question, not a closed question where people just answer with yes or no. And often a good question starts with "how" or "what". What I often hear are why questions, and why questions of course, have their place, but a simple question like, "why did you do that?", especially depending on the tone or voice, can make the other person defensive. The "why" can sound judgmental, like something was wrong. And then people will come up with excuses.

[19:43] Gerrit: Yeah, because.

[19:44] Martin: mm-Hmm

[19:45] Gerrit: So, again, as a summary, "how" or "what" is often better than "why". And also very important is not to package our advice in a question, "Shouldn't you do this?" Also a good question explores more options, especially in the beginning of a coaching situation where you, so to say, want to open the funnel for options. Yeah, can you tell me more about this? Yeah, so keep the other person talking.

[20:20] Martin: To, to build on this, I, must tell about my big aha moment about, uh, helping a person to explore a problem, asking questions that helps the person to understand the problem deeper. So for instance, that might be questions about "tell me more about the problem. What do you think are the causes here? What could you do about the problem?", etc. All those questions that explore the problem deeper and deeper and deeper. And a totally different perspective is actually to explore the thinking, to help the person to think about their thinking. So, instead of asking, please tell me more about the problem, we focus on their thinking. "How long have you been thinking about this problem?" And it really prevents me as a leader to wanting to solve the problem by myself. 

[21:21] Gerrit: Martin, this is really beautiful, because also when we ask a question, we are often, how should I say, very much solution- oriented. But asking the question does not always have the purpose of finding the solution immediately. The problem might be so complex that it needs more time. We ask the question to help people expand their thinking, take the thinking to the next level. There is, by the way, a wonderful book by Nancy Kline. It's called "Time to Think", and the whole book is just about this: how can I, in various situations, for instance as a leader, create a "thinking environment"? 

[22:03] Martin: But I think this is a good reminder, because asking powerful questions is this concept that most people have learned about. But what type of questions is really a powerful question that is something that we can practice. And, uh, you, you also mentioned trust.

[22:25] Gerrit: Yes. what we often see is that when people go to this coach training, they, I want to learn about the "techniques." You may also ask the trainer the question, so how exactly do I do it? What are the steps? What do I do first? And so on. And again, I see many people then trying desperately to follow the process, but the whole process won't work if trust is not there. And oftentimes, I think many coaching schools still don't teach that. Um, and I feel reminded of the work by Dan Siegel in California. He coined the term "Interpersonal Neurobiology", which in a way relates to the example I gave earlier about the friend listening to somebody. And it works because there is trust.

[23:22] Gerrit: So, when I can share my problem with somebody who I believe will not judge me, will not label me as stupid because I'm talking about this problem, when I feel I am safe, I am seen by this other person, that is then the foundation to take my thinking to the next level. I'm not defensive, I can think clearly, I can come up with new ideas.

[23:51] Gerrit: Again, while I believe this is immensely important, at the same time, this can also be a limiting aspect for leaders. I think leaders should not make the attempt to become a professional coach. 

[24:07] Gerrit: I can meet with my clients at eye level. They don't need to tell me how great they are. By definition if a leader, a leader is still the boss, if they are coaching their employees, they are in a different situation regarding power. Even the best boss, if they have done their very best to build trust- based relationships, they are still the ones who decide about a salary increase, they decide about the next promotion. So, how open can an employee really be in disclosing their weaknesses? So I think that is also something that leaders need to consider. They can use "coaching type conversations", but they can't replace the external coach for their people. 

[25:02] Martin: hmm. I heard here two things, both this dilemma around trust, but also not be over reliant on a coaching process. The trust, the connection, the relationship will typically be more important as a platform than using exactly the correct coaching process. The best coaching process won't work if there is not a fundamental level of trust and connection there.

[25:31] Gerrit: Yes, 100 percent. And  I think this is already one of the aspects that's getting into the way: leaders who tend to be very outcome- oriented, they also think then if I coach somebody in my team, then it always needs to lead to a good outcome. But I would here really encourage people, play with this being present, being in the moment, and go into exploration mode, see what happens.

[25:59] Martin: This now takes us to a few other challenges or points that we have experienced. And I think the first one is actually when we see leaders that have done a lot of training and coaching, or they have been very successful with some employees in coaching them, and they are using coaching in too many situations. Of course, we need to realize just because you have a hammer, every problem is not a nail. So we need to use situational leadership. Coaching is not the answer in every situation.

[26:35] Gerrit: I think themodel or framework work of "situational leadership" is an excellent example, because if I can just add on what you said, it has actually two dimensions. One is the situation in which apply coaching or a different approach. I mean, if my house is on fire and the fire brigade is in front of the door, I don't want them to take a coaching approach. "Hmm, what do you think? How should we approach this fire?" Right? So, I want then somebody who tells people what to do. And similarly, there may be situations at work, there may be a crisis where we just act quickly, where coaching is not necessarily the best approach.

[27:18] Gerrit: Coaching can be used when there is a component of development and it, it simply takes longer, we must admit this. But the other aspect that I wanted to highlight, which I'm not so sure if this came out. When you look at this traditional model of situational leadership, they don't only look at the situation, they also look at the "readiness" of the people. And, of course, in any organization, you have people who are naturally more engaged, more motivated, you have people with different skills, and let's face it, there are some people where both sides are better off if we just tell them what to do and then they execute and it's good enough, you know? And others, they have more potential, they are more self motivated. And the less you interfere with them, the better it is. And to highlight the point that you made before, before we label people too quickly as, what should I say, not capable enough, we should give them the benefit of the doubt and try first to see them full of potential, give them an opportunity, and maybe some miracles will happen.

[28:31] Martin: mm-Hmm. And I think this then also links to, the different coaching opportunities. What we have talked about so far might be these informal coaching opportunities. Let's say you are getting approached by a team member, or there is something that you really specifically need to discuss. But of course that means we can also create as leaders, this more formal coaching opportunities, or we can have our one-on-one meetings regular with team members and we can apply a coaching approach in those one-on-one meetings. 

[29:08] Gerrit: what's the formal coaching for you?

[29:13] Martin: To me, formal coaching means a pre scheduled, meeting where we're coming in with preset objectives, it's not something that happens in the moment.

[29:22] Gerrit: yeah.

[29:23] Martin: And, I think it's important now to find the good blend between those. We can use coaching approach, it doesn't only need to be formally scheduled, there is many ad hoc, in the moment, coaching opportunities. But of course, I think we can use coaching approaches in our scheduled, our formal one-on-one meetings, for instance.

[29:46] Gerrit: Yeah, I think what we, what we said before, this simple formula: tell less, listen more, ask more questions. You can use that almost in any human interaction. It can be like you said, somebody comes to your office, ask for advice. You can use it in a team meeting and gradually develop this so that it becomes more natural. I think that is extremely powerful. And then you can also maybe with your direct reports, maybe you want to even openly discuss, "hey, you know, I want to support you in your development, um, how about we try some coaching?" And then depending on how many people you have, how busy everybody is, you start regular, I'm about to say sessions, but it could also be something like you just call it in more informally, a check- in, and this could be once a month or twice a month, whatever works. But I think what must be clear that even if you call it a check- in, it should not be, I think you should not mix up as a leader this formal coaching session with anything else that's going on in work. Because otherwise people will come to this session with, oh, you know, I have to tell my boss how well the project is going and that everything is under control.

[31:08] Martin: mm-Hmm mm-Hmm. I mean, status reports can be done in so many other ways, and perhaps, uh, when we have the chance for quality face-to-face time, we should not use that on, on status reporting, et cetera. We should really use that to expand the thinking and the potential. And the next element that is so challenges is of course, time. As you already mentioned, coaching takes time. And I think this is again, this is the dilemma of managers to free up time to listen and coach your employees. And there's this famous quadrant, from Stephen Covey about the, the important versus urgent. and I think as leaders, we got to spend more time in the important but not urgent quadrant, what Stephen Covey calls the quadrant two. And, And this is the dilemma: if we spend too little time in important, but not urgent, probably, as a consequence, we need to firefight; we are going to spend a lot of time in the important and very, very urgent quadrant, and we're getting into a negative, vicious circle. So how can I, as a leader, free up my time to spend more time in the quality quadrant, by doing a lot of coaching, helping my team members solve their own problems, take initiative, be autonomous.

[32:36] Gerrit: I just remember, I think this matrix is also called the Eisenhower matrix. And I think it's a classic, right? But of course it is difficult. I mean, one that really everybody I talk to in any company, one thing they all have in common is they are all super busy. But it's really like you can only break this vicious circle if you invest time, for instance, in coaching people because over time there will be a return on investment.

[33:07] Martin: mm.

[33:07] Gerrit: If you, if you develop your, I mean, I'm coming back to this earlier example, how can I get people to take initiative? Yeah, if the coaching helps that people take initiative, then in the future, you will not have to solve the problem for other people, they will solve it themselves.

[33:24] Martin: To build on this, one of the practical challenges here, I've seen when implementing coaching in organizations, was that leaders starting to schedule one-on-one meetings with their employees. And then for many reasons, they had to postpone them. There was a customer calling, or the big boss were calling a meeting. And I mean, then this becomes double demotivating. Because, uh, suddenly as an employee, when my boss keeps on rescheduling my one-on-one sessions, that sends a clear message, I'm not important at all. And, and I think this, when, when we are thinking about scheduling this, we're going to have to be realistic about how do I protect this schedule. And in my particular case with that client, we actually had to bring this to the attention of more senior leaders. Senior leaders wanted to implement a coaching culture.

[34:20] Gerrit: Yeah.

[34:21] Martin: But how they then on short notice scheduled time from their middle managers without realizing the impact that their middle managers had to postpone their coaching sessions. There could not be a coaching culture. So I think this is something that needs to be realistically discussed across the organization. 

[34:43] Gerrit: Martin, I'm so glad you're bringing this up because it sounds so trivial, but it is really one of the aspects that, um, or one of the factors that contribute, to the failure of these coaching initiatives. I mean, obviously there can be things that are more important than, than others, but when you're rescheduling any meeting, you're clearly sending out the message, there is something else that matters more than you. 

[35:13] Martin: I think it's always these practical goal conflicts that might stop this, especially when we want to roll this out as a coaching culture. And lastly, I'm thinking about this: "Just Do It!!"

[35:29] Gerrit: Yeah

[35:30] Martin: Sometime, applying a new habit, doing something that we have, we have trained for it, we've been to the workshops, we think we don't really master it, so we give ourselves an excuse not starting to do it because it might not be perfect. It might put us in uncomfortable situations where we need to learn from our mistake as leaders, but I think this is clearly a case of just do it, go out and start to practice.

[36:00] Gerrit: Yeah, and Martin when you say mastery, it reminds me of another conversation we had earlier: as adults and maybe especially as senior leaders, we think we need to be good in everything. Whereas, you gave this example, when children learn, they do it in a more playful way. They are not afraid of failure, and that is so important for the learning process.

[36:26] Gerrit: So I think even as senior leaders, we may need to, I'm not sure if I should say, take a more playful approach, but we must be ready to, and eventually embarrass ourselves. Be ready that the first coaching conversation does not go as expected, but it is a learning. You can't go to the master level by skipping the beginner levels, it's not possible. And so, yeah, you,  just need to start and then along the journey, learn also from your mistakes, that's part of the game. 

[37:02] Martin: Actually we might even lower expectations by not calling it coaching. Let's not schedule a meeting with an employee and say this is going to be a coaching session. We just apply the coaching skills, the behaviours, in our daily leadership, in a normal conversation. And nobody would actually notice that you're actually trying to do something new. 

[37:26] Martin: I think it's time to get into the wrap up, Gerrit, and we always wrap up with some reflection questions here.

[37:33] Gerrit: Do you have something?

[37:36] Gerrit: I have indeed. And I want to use today some deep coaching questions inspired by a technique that is called "brief coaching". So, I start with the idea that many people have been to a training, a coaching training, and they're just not applying it, so something is getting into the way. So my deep coaching question for these people is: Suppose a miracle happened overnight, and all these obstacles that prevent you from using more coaching at work are removed. How will you start discovering that the miracle actually happened? And after that then, what will you be doing then that you are not doing now?

[38:33] Martin: Hmm. 

[38:34] Gerrit: a second question that goes into the direction of believing in other people's potential because I think that is super important. So, on a scale of 1 to 10, today, how confident are you that your team members are capable to deliver outstanding work? On a scale from 1 to 10, how confident are you that your team members are capable to deliver outstanding work? Now, suppose you fully believed that your team members are full of potential, they can be heroes. How would you then interact differently with them?

[39:18] Martin: Hmm. 

[39:18] Gerrit: these are my two questions, they are a bit complex, maybe people need to read them again in the session notes, but I think they can be very powerful.

[39:27] Martin: I don't have a deep reflection question like that, Gerrit. I think your question is really powerful. I'm, thinking about this very practical, about time.

[39:38] Martin: To reflect how satisfied am I with the proportion of time that I spend as a leader in the urgent important quadrant versus the not very urgent but very important quadrant.

[39:58] Gerrit: Yeah.

[39:59] Martin: And how could using more coaching help me to shift the proportion there.

[40:06] Gerrit: Hmm.

[40:07] Gerrit: I think that's a good question. Anything else?

[40:11] Martin: No, thank you, Gerrit. It was a very nice conversation, as always, on a very important topic.

[40:20] Gerrit: It was. Thank you for that. And this concludes today's episode. If you like what we do, please subscribe to Second Crack on your favorite podcast platform. And it would also be wonderful if you could recommend our podcast to a friend. And of course, we would love it if you could leave a positive comment or rating.

[40:41] Gerrit: For more insights about our work, please visit our website at secondcrackleadership. com, that's all in one word. And we are also curious to receive your feedback, your questions, your comments. So please feel free to reach out to us at hello at secondcrackleadership. com. 

[41:02] Gerrit: Thank you for listening and bye for now.