Coach your team to success

It has been argued that good leaders don’t just manage.  They inspire, they transform, they think big, they show their people the respect they want to earn.  Leaders don’t just parcel out daily tasks and wait for them to be completed.  They work with their employees.

Good leaders have mastered the art of results-driven management without sacrificing teamwork or the daily work that needs to happen for goals to be met.  In other words, good leaders are great coaches.  If you want your work teams to be successful, start coaching, not just leading.  Doing so will get you and your stakeholders the results you want.

Think Goals

Great coaches always start with a goal, whether that’s winning a championship or improving the skills of their team members.  No matter if you’re putting together a team for a specific project, or its the team of people you lead daily, set goals for your team.  

Goals can be milestones for a product’s development, or they can be daily numbers for a sales team.  No matter what, good coaches structure the team’s practice, or work, around these goals  This long-term thinking is one of the things great leaders do.

Great organizational coaches will also inspire their team members to set individual goals for themselves.  These goals don’t always have to benefit the organization, but they should, at least peripherally.  A great coach will encourage a team member to seek that advanced degree.  This is equipping a team member instead of just expecting from a team member, which is how an exceptional coach gets his team to act.

Think Communication

Once a coach has set these expectations for his team members, he must communicate them.  Not all managers are great at communicating, and good leaders are better at it.  They typically communicate regularly with their employees, making sure they know what’s expected of them.

A coach adept at communication, however, will involve his team members in the communication process.  Inviting players to get involved in all steps of a process, from goal setting to evaluation, is how you build a hard-working team, sports or otherwise.

Many of the best coaching philosophies include collaborative communication among coaches and players.  This same collaborative communication should be cultivated among leadership and employees.  On the field or the court, coaches ask for input on designing plays and training programs.  

In the workplace, coaches ask for input on nearly anything.  A product team needs to be able to communicate with each other about the status of a project.  If your organization is struggling with motivating its employees, one of the simplest ways to open these lines of communication is to simply ask what employees want.  There are times when that’s all it takes, and a coach will not only ask what team members want in order to succeed but what they need.

Think Positive

How many interviews with famous coaches have you seen where they say they’re going to focus on positives after a loss?  It seems humorous after hearing it so many times, but they say it for a reason: focusing on the negative is disheartening.  

Even if your team is struggling, take a page from the coaching playbook and focus on what your team has done well.  Great leaders look for the good in their team members and use that to motivate them to overcome a defeat.  If that defeat is a failed beta test, a product team coach should first focus on what was completed successfully.

Second, the coach should move on to what needs to be changed, improved, or scrapped without pointing fingers.  If you can avoid negative language at all, do so.  The best leaders are always positive, and this projects enthusiasm.  Enthusiasm in turn motivates, and this is what coaches want more than anything: motivated team members who will do their best work for the team.

Hattie is a writer and researcher living in Boise, Idaho. She has a varied background, including education and sports journalism. She is a former electronic content manager and analyst for a government agency. She recently completed her MBA and enjoys local ciders.