CoachApproachPowerGridThe coach approach to growing your business relies on two skills: Using inspirational power to paint a compelling picture of a different future and choosing languaging that invites accountability.

First, let’s define the four kinds of power that are typically used within businesses and families.

  • Positional Power: “Do it because I said so.”
  • Social Evidence: “We’ve always done it that way.” Or, “Everyone else gets to do it, why can’t I?”
  • Group Pressure: “Everyone else has agreed. You’re the only hold back.”
  • Inspirational Power: In this power model, we paint a compelling picture of an alternate future that points out the advantages and the benefits to the listener.

Leading with Inspirational Power isn’t all flowers and candy. To be truly effective, the leader not only gains excitement and buy in from the team; it’s important to declare the gaps, build a plan and own the action steps together until everyone learns how to run on their own.

Leveraging inspirational power requires moving away from the Expectations Model and adopting the Accountability Model. Can you hear the differences in the descriptions below?

  Expectations Model Vs. Accountability Model
How it feels Being pushed for results. Command and Control management style. Judging. One-way communication. Pulling toward a shared outcome. Coach approach. We’re in this together. Team. Curious. Safe. Two-way communication.
What it sounds like “My expectations are…” Or: “You should have known what the expectations were because this is how we always do it.”  “I’m sure you got the memo – go look for it.” “What needs to happen in order for us to reach this new state?”  “Let’s outline together what we are agreeing to make happen. Then, let’s meet periodically to see how things are going and make sure we stay on course.”
How things get done Relies on positional power rather than leadership skills to get things done. People do the work to avoid pain or get someone off their back. Relies on curiosity and shared learning rather than positional power. Builds the power of the team or work group. People do the work because they want to contribute.
What it looks like from the outside Grinding out the work. Defensive response to questions. Energized teams. Questions are welcome. People get noticed for their ability to move projects forward.
What happens when problems arise Blame. Workers may feel the need to protect each other. May demonstrate skill in employing delay and avoidance techniques. May attempt to focus attention away from current performance and dwell instead on perceived “wrongs” done to them. Problems are seen as challenges; opportunities to stretch and demonstrate growth. Problems are not desirable but they’re not avoided as the team knows no one is going to get killed. Highly responsive teams learn to declare problems openly and prioritize them for solutioning according to potential group benefit.
© Susan Wright-Boucher 2010-2013

One Final Tip and One Caveat

  • Asking questions is the most powerful method for creating change and growing your business. Think of open-ended questions that invite curiosity and encourage partnered thinking.
  • Unfortunately, not everyone is coachable. You may encounter one or two people in your career who rely on guile and cunning, which can escalate into bullying, covert insubordination or possibly victim behaviour — all in an attempt to maintain the status quo. You and your organization will have to decide how to deal with that should you ever encounter it as this situation will prevent the team from progressing toward its goals.

If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy My Best Coaching Questions. They’re tried and true, gathered over the last five years.

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