There is no doubt we are all experiencing massive changes in the way we work, which requires us to change the way we manage others. How do we reconcile these paradoxes…on the one hand you are responsible for the outcomes, on the other hand you must not over-control? Faced with this risk, some managers try to exert greater control.

Leading Australian coaching researcher Dr Anthony Grant and co-author Jane Greene advocate that becoming a coaching leader is way of reconciling these challenges. Coaching…is a way of allowing people the freedom to use their own experience, talent, skills and resources while, at the same time, setting clear goals and making sure the job gets done. (Solution Focused Coaching, 2003, p13)

Greene and Grant explain:

Coaching is about creating positive directed change…Managers can use coaching to enhance and increase the performance of individuals and teams (p xiii)

Successful coaching works on finding solutions. If looks forwards not backwards. It asks ‘How can we change this?’ and ‘How can we do it better?’, not ‘Why did it happen and who is to blame’.

You need to learn how to let go of telling people what to do and learn ways of asking the right kind of questions of yourself, of your team, and of your department. You need to use solution-focused questions that will get the results you need.

If you can incorporate solution-focused techniques into your management style you will begin to find that you spend less time unravelling problems and more time leading your team forward in the direction you want to go (p xiv).

For reflection:

  • Where have you faced the dilemma of feeling you are responsible, but realizing that it just doesn’t work trying to exert more control?
  • If you were to engage in a more solution-focused approach to leadership, what would that look like?
  • How could you use some solution-focused questions this week to move the team toward the results you need to achieve?