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Getting Better

Four Suggestions for Coaching Your Team

My personal trainer, Todd, is one energetic and enthusiastic guy. He's full-throttle and non-stop. At the gym he is in constant motion with all kinds of encouragement for us to "get better"; to push ourselves, to do more reps, use more weight, to stretch past our limiting beliefs. Thanks to him we do get better. We get fitter, stronger, leaner and, in my case, pretty doggone tired by the time the workout is mercifully done!

Today's best business leaders know full well that the key to good leadership is to prioritize getting everyone around them better.  

The ability to coach "getting better" is critical for ultimate success.

So just how does a leader make those around them better? Here are four suggestions.

1. Let them know they're really worth it. Affirm often. Let your people know they are vital, important and necessary. That ought to be obvious. Yet, so many employees have no idea what their boss thinks of their performance - because they have never been told. Worse, when they have been spoken to, it was only when something had gone wrong. Catch them doing things right. Managers who don't learn how to praise their employees will find that the good ones end up leaving.

2. Let them take on bigger and bigger challenges. Give people a chance to surprise you, the opportunity to succeed at a higher level. See how they react when they discover for themselves how capable they really are. Give them the big assignment, the appropriate support and then let go and let them soar!

3. Be both inspiring and accountable. Set high standards for excellence. Great leaders push for the achievement of great goals. Importantly, they hold themselves accountable for delivering at that high level as well. Plus, they consistently model the same positive work traits that they expect from their staffs. As a result, these leaders can share with their team the pride and satisfaction in what they have accomplished - by working better together.

4. Trust them and then trust them some more. Trust is vital to the health of the leader/employee relationship. When the leader ends up doing too much themselves and too often, the talented people can't help but get frustrated. The unspoken message becomes, "I don't trust you to do this as well as I can." Healthy staffers don't mind accepting assignments and being delegated to. They were likely hired because of their exceptional skill sets. Trust them to get the job done properly. Trust that they know how to perform and that they are eager to make a worthy contribution.

With a good leader's influence, the team can be coached towards "getting better". The results? Performance standards are elevated. There is greater output. Morale improves. The team begins to look like a well-conditioned athlete: fit, lean, strong and maybe happily tired by day's end.

By Jeff Blum, Lead Facilitator at The TeamBuilding Co.

Copyright 2011 Jeff Blum. All rights reserved.