Much of my coaching is split between the work I do with senior leaders and the work I do with emerging leaders.  What I notice most with emerging leaders is that they need a way to ‘change the conversation’ with their people if they want their people to ‘engage and create.’

The problem for most emerging leaders is that many of their models for authority and leadership are about ‘command and control.’  They come from a history where often they, and others, were ‘told’ what to do, what not to do, and what to fix, which may have included nagging, cajoling, threatening, etc..  It is efficient and it works…in the short term.  We get compliance, but we never really get commitment.  Because this style gets the ‘desired outcome’ we are lulled into thinking it is the best way.  It isn’t.

Today’s worker wants more.  They want more from their work, more from their relationships at work, and to make a bigger contribution – at least most of them.  In order for this to happen, we need to change our conversations, particularly those where some corrective action needs to take place.

I have all kinds of techniques and language I can teach you, but for now it is more important that you recognize the importance of changing the conversation to one that is more collaborative.  A conversation where you are asking more questions and making less statements than you do today.  In order for that to go well the employee needing coached needs to understand the gap between where they are and where they want to be (more successful).  This happens with the employee’s ability to self-evaluate their behavior.  This happens best through questions that require their thinking about whether their current behavior is helping or hurting them in achieving more.  It also happens best when there is a good relationship established.

The very act of questions allows the employee to see from your tone and approach that they have a choice of what they want to do.  It is not your choice.  The ‘space’ between question and response invites them to choose the path they wish to take.  This approach is a way you support them and support their success.  You are not only approaching them in a tone that invites their participation and ‘engagement,’ but sends a strong signal that you care about what they choose.  At the heart it encourages self-accountability and self-responsibility, something most organizations need more of to be successful.

If we want our employees to ‘engage and create’ what part of your conversations with them invites you to improve?