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THE COACH

So far, we have discussed three very different behavioural styles: authoritarian, administrator, and organizer. The authoritarian provides direction by telling followers what to do; the administrator gives direction through rules, policies, and principles by referencing history and precedent; the organizer provides direction in a democratic manner through consulting and teaching others and helping them to understand what needs to be done.

Next, we consider a fourth important leadership style for aspiring role model leaders to consider: the coach. Coaches – mentors are just as familiar a term – provide direction by teaching. They establish supportive partnerships with their followers, through which they share their knowledge and capabilities in order to encourage personal and organizational growth. They do not tell their followers to do things, nor do they advocate rules. They teach others the possibilities that exist to change things for the better by encouraging them and by setting an example.

The coach does not aggressively involve followers. He needs to be certain the follower wants and needs coaching. He wants a partnership to be possible; he believes that the followers can do their work, but he also makes himself available to assist when they express a need. The coach, once engaged, encourages and supports and inspires his followers to make positive change. He teaches new skills and capabilities as required.

Coach-style leaders lead their people from a set of personal values, which followers come to understand. Those values include the central premise of the book – which is, that people can be taught certain skills, character attributes, and values-based behaviours that will allow them to lead themselves to achieve positive change.

The best example I can remember encountering of the coach style was in China, when I was working in Asia and engaged in inluencing Asian companies to partner with our company on various joint ventures. A company leader, whom I got to know very well, was a coach-leader. His company had attracted our interest because of our complementary technologies in plant science. He had hired the best scientists and engineers he could ind and organized them into project teams – I would have called them natural work teams. He deined the projects his teams would undertake at a high level of purpose and then allowed them complete authority and freedom of action. His role after that was entirely to encourage them, and in that regard, he spoke to them in almost mystical terms about the endless opportunities that they had to accomplish their goals and what those goals could mean. Some of his teams failed, but many did not, and together they built a highly successful enterprise, seemingly without his functional help but with much of his being and will.

If one of the most important company goals is a major improvement in workplace safety, the goals of an organizer-leader might include continuously improving the injury rate year over year. The goals of the administrator-leader would include setting more and better safety rules for people to follow. The goals of the authoritarian would include ordering the supervisors and managers to in turn order their subgroups to improve their safety performance, and to do it quickly. A coach-leader, by contrast, would consult with as many people as possible in the organization by encouraging and inluencing them based on his personal values and teaching them where necessary to set aspirational goals that are far higher than the current ones. The coach-leader would remind the company's people that they could do far better – that they were too talented to be having injuries and that they could and needed to improve.


Beyond the Archetypes

The preceding discussion of the four archetypes intends to accomplish two things. First, the discussion sets useful boundary conditions for a multitude of situational leadership styles that have varying proportions of each archetype. The boundaries were deined (see Figure 7.1) in terms of two dyads: the one from the more eficient but less effective authoritarian style to the less eficient but more effective coach style, and the other from the much more collaborative organizer style to the much less collaborative administrator style. Second, the discussion provides understanding for the aspiring role model leader regarding the choices available for dealing with various situations and cultures.

Up to this point, the dialogue with you, the reader, has been objective and nonjudgmental. That is about to change. This book is dedicated to describing and advocating a unique model for leading organizations. I call it developmental leadership. The goal is to develop role model leaders based on the aspirational target of Everyone a Leader.

The leadership style for fulilling the conditions necessary to become a developmental role model leader is found in the top right quadrant of the four-term leadership style framework (see Figure 7.1), which is in close proximity to the archetypes organizer and coach. That, I would point out, is directly opposite the lower left quadrant: authoritarian and administrator.

Several characteristics of the coach style differentiate it from the organizer style. The coach is a mentor who provides followers with ideas and examples of behaviours that have merit. The organizer is more of a teacher who engages with the team of followers and other leaders to provide direction.

The developmental leader is a competent teacher who provides direction but who also provides space and opportunity and encouragement to the followers so that they can develop themselves to make positive changes in the organization. In this process the developmental leader both learns and teaches. In that way, he develops himself while developing others.

The developmental leader always sets goals for the team that encourage them to improve situations through innovation. Also, this leader inluences followers to seek positive reconciles wherever strongly held views exist. The coach style is more likely to encourage change than to inluence it. The organizer style is more likely to persuade change than to inluence it.

The developmental leader will seek transformational change as a means of sustaining “growthfulness” in persons and organizations. She will promote aspirational future states that inspire followers to see meaning in their work to change things and to improve the lives of others. The developmental leader is a reconcile, an idea more innovative, more inluential than the organizer-leader or coach-leader archetypes, with elements of each leadership style.


 
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