Coaching the small stuff gets big results


A head of professional services realised that when his managers constantly came to him to solve problems, he became a bottle neck and issues got delayed, plus his workload greatly increased. He wanted his direct reports taking more decisions on their own and encouraging the same behaviour in their teams, making them all more effective.

During his Leading From the Middle programme he recognised coaching as a skill he could learn and apply right away. He saw it as a powerful tool to stimulate the thinking of his managers, but that it was also something he could use with peers, between teams and with customers. He took it slowly at first, allowing his team time to adjust to his new approach of asking questions rather than telling. Coaching on the job helped him become a better manager, who delegates more. He stopped taking on additional work by helping others think through issues and generate options for moving forwards, freeing himself up to focus on higher value activity. He also encouraged his direct reports to coach their teams and has seen confidence improve as individuals take on and succeed in more complex tasks.

An unexpected outcome was that learning to coach also extended his listening capability. Where before he would finish people’s sentences or just give them a solution, he now takes a step back and hears people out. He is more patient with his team – which is validated by his boss – and customers have also benefited – he listens more attentively to be clear what their issues are, which has helped him handle a number of difficult customer situations much more effectively.