The sixth step to becoming a coaching leader is to master your coaching disciplines. A discipline, by definition, is an activity, exercise, or a regimen that develops or improves a skill. It is the consistent behaviors done over time that help us achieve our goals or desired end result.
Each of us is a product of our current disciplines. Whatever you choose to spend the hours and minutes of your day doing will determine your level of effectiveness as a coaching leader. For this reason you must choose wisely which activities you are going to focus on each day.
There are five disciplines I believe you must master on the road to becoming a coaching leader:
- Consistent 1x1 Coaching Sessions: You must do everything within your power to consistently have your scheduled one-on-one coaching sessions. If you start to cancel sessions for other meetings, client needs, or because you are unprepared you will not only loose momentum but you will lose the trust of the people you coach.
- Researching Thought Leadership: This discipline benefits both you and your clients. You must dedicate time each week to researching the latest executive coaching trends, best practices, and learnings. You also must dedicate time to reading, listening, and watching information on leadership, management, and people development. This discipline will keep you sharp and provide you with key insights for your clients' unique challenges and opportunities.
- Reflection and Preparation Time: Taking the time each day or the night before to prepare for your upcoming sessions is paramount to building trust with your clients and delivering coaching with excellence. If you enter a session unprepared, not having reflected on the client's goals, challenges, and top priorities the client will sense your lack of preparation and become discouraged and disengaged from the coaching relationship.
- Connecting and Follow-Through: One of the best practices my friend and fellow coach, Raymond Gleason, recommended to me was writing personal notes to clients after a coaching session. One of my disciplines now is to write at least five personal notes a week. In these notes I focus on encouragement and support of my clients, letting them know that I'm thinking of them and proud of their efforts and accomplishments. Following-through with your clients is also important. Remembering to contact a client outside of a coaching session for extra accountability also demonstrates to the client your belief in them and desire to see them succeed.
- Personal Leadership Time: Finally, every coach must have the discipline of taking time off from coaching and other work responsibilities. The people you coach are expecting you to be at your best and you cannot be an excellent coaching leader when your personal leadership is not your first priority. This means you must walk your talk and live out your Life Plan weekly. You must be purposeful and intentional with your key relationships and in the key areas of your life. People are watching you. Your personal leadership must precede your team leadership for you to consistently grow in your leadership capacity and achieve the results you desire.
As you start to implement your coaching strategy make sure you have dedicated time in your calendar for each of the disciplines listed above. Remember, becoming a coaching leader is a process not an event. I'm still learning every day from my clients and peers how I can be a better coach. If you take the time to implement each of the six steps to becoming a coaching leader I have outlined you will master an exciting and rewarding leadership style that develops the people you lead and allows everyone to achieve greater results.
Make it a great day!