The phrase “two-timer” certainly has a well deserved negative connotation to it. It is most often used to define a person who is cheating in a relationship with another person.
In coaching however being a “two-timer” can be a very good thing.
Too many coaches, managers and even leaders think of coaching solely in terms of correcting a mistake of some kind. You could call those coaches, managers, and leaders a “one-time” coach. The only time they think to coach is when they see something wrong.
But truly great coaches and leaders know that another effective time to coach is when things go well. Coaching at these times is positive re-enforcement that tends to cement the “right” behavior that is being coached.
A key responsibility of an effective leader is to build and help their people become successful. That requires consistent, thoughtful and meaningful coaching, when things go wrong AND when things go right.
Leaders who coach increase the performance of their people, increase the satisfaction of their people and increase the value of their people to the team. They also reduce what is known as the “reality gap.” This is the gap that exists between what the leader sees the team member doing and what the team member believes they are doing. In the healthiest organizations there is very little gap.
The best leaders coach when the gap is becoming larger or smaller.
To coach effectively you’ll need these skills and characteristics:
Set a good example. If your words don’t match your actions then you simply cannot coach. Your people will do what you do light years before they will do what you say. As a leader you are the “model” for successful behavior. Or not.
See the big picture. As a coach and a leader you need to see a bigger picture than your followers. While it’s acceptable for your followers to merely see the consequences of their actions you must be see the consequences of the consequences. That comes with experience; successful coaches and leaders share their experience with others.
Be a good listener. Great coaches and Authentic Servant Leaders use more than just their ears to listen. They use their heart, their eyes, their experience, and their intuition. They do not prejudge what is being said and they focus on the person speaking. They pay full attention to what is being said and they do not interrupt the speaker. Great listeners know this simple truth; if you’re talking you’re not listening. The fact is, if you’re thinking about what you’re going to say next you’re not listen then either.
Desire to see other people grow. Leadership, true leadership at least, is not about the leader. It is about the people they lead. If you do not have a genuine, sincere desire to see other people grow you will never risk the caring, compassionate confrontation that comes with good coaching. When you’re committed to seeing other people grow you will coach, it’s just about that simple.
There really is little difference in the skills required to close the reality gap through coaching whether the gap is getting bigger or smaller. The one major difference is that when the gap is getting larger and you’re likely coaching for corrective action, the coaching must be done in private. Public embarrassment is not coaching.
When the gap is getting smaller however the coaching can indeed be public. It can be used to highlight the “right” behavior being coached. Celebrating the good stuff in the presence of the entire team tends to make the “right” behavior a bit contagious.
If you’re a “one-time” kind of coach then your people may think of you as “the boss” but they probably don’t think of you as a leader.
Coach early, coach often. Coach in bad times AND good, one is certainly less stressful than the other but both are the purview of Authentic Servant Leadership.