Two of my recent posts focusing on coaching have considered that leaders need to stir things up in times of uncertainty, and that leveraging internal motivation as opposed to external rewards can be very powerful.
As I jotted down ideas for this post, and worked toward a kind of capstone statement about coaching, it struck me that the I’s have it…
Leaders can improve their leadership by focusing on Ingenuity, Individualism and Intrinsic Motivators.
The effective leader understands the value of resourcefulness and the power of originality. It is also important to recognize benefits of these traits in employees. Since effective coaching offers meaningful choices and encourages active involvement, the leader who focuses on ingenuity is ahead of the game. Ingenuity involves possessing inventive skill, which suggests the ability to create something from nothing, or to configure things in ways that others may not consider. Leaders need to be able to see the potential of the raw materials that lie before them, and to inspire others to see that potential too.
We tend to think of coaching within the organization as a hard skill, but there are many softer skills that contribute to effective coaching and leadership. Ingenuity touches on the leader’s ability to be imaginative, and to nurture creativity in others.
It’s worth remembering that creativity is not simply an innate characteristic that we are either born with, or without. But that leaders can encourage imaginative solutions by fostering environments where, for example, team members are engaged in interesting activities and feel at ease collaborating with others.
We understand the benefits of recognizing workers as having needs specific to their communication preferences, their cultural backgrounds, and their work styles. Yet we continue to struggle with addressing individualism on a few levels.
The myth of the generational divide is just one example, in that organizations still seem to find comfort in pigeonholing workers based on assumptions about their age. It may be convenient to think of people as either Baby-Boomers, Gen-Xers or Millennials, but research points to this as inaccurate and counterproductive. Leaders who treat each person as an individual deserving recognition and understanding focus on the strengths and skills that person brings to the table, instead of what may separate us based on the arbitrary category of age.
- Intrinsic Motivators
While the old system of using external rewards and punishments to get employees motivated still holds a seemingly logical attraction for many leaders, the reality is that coaching is more effective when leaders understand what truly motivates workers. A needs-based approach to coaching focuses on helping employees fulfill their three fundamental psychological needs: the need to feel valued as knowledgeable, the need to collaborate and the need for autonomy.
The leader who can let go of the external carrot and stick method, and instead shape a motivational workplace focusing on needs-based feedback, is a leader that helps workers realize their talent and fulfill their potential.
Coaching requires staying in touch with the complexity of current trends, while understanding the unique needs of one’s organization and workers.
It’s a tall order, but focusing on ingenuity, individualism and intrinsic motivators can help to build leadership that is committed to results through an employee-centered approach.
Sharon Daniels is CEO of AchieveGlobal in Tampa, Florida