Psychologist Carol Dweck has asserted through decades of research that our mindset--how we see ourselves--has a significant influence on how we perform and lead others.
Want to influence your team to perform at a higher level? Get your mind right before you get your team right. And one of the best approaches to increasing value as a leader is having the mindset of a coach.
Consider how often you have observed an average employee under an average leader begin to flourish once he or she is assigned to a leader with a coach's mindset, who sees the potential in that employee.
According to Lee J. Colan, co-founder of The L Group, and author of The Power of Positive Coaching, before you build your team or organization's capacity for excellence through coaching, the most important question a leader should ask is: "What am I currently doing to improve my personal excellence?"
Inspiring coaches work on themselves before they work on their teams. It starts inside with an understanding of yourself.
Start with building up 4 levels of awareness
Colan says that a positive coaching mindset is first built on a foundation of self-knowledge, where leaders intentionally and courageously commit to deepening four levels of self-awareness:
1. Know your thoughts.
The greatest form of knowledge is knowing yourself. And knowing yourself starts with knowing your thoughts. Colan says, "You draw into your life that which you constantly think about--good or bad."
If you are always thinking about why you can't seem to get a break, or why you don't get as much recognition as your colleague, then you are programming your mind (and those around you) to turn these thoughts into your reality.
"Negative thoughts are landmines along the pathway to being your best," says Colan. Fortunately, the reverse is also true. If you consistently and intentionally nurture positive thoughts and expectations, you paint a picture of future success on the walls of your mind.
Some people ask, "How can I be positive when negative situations are a reality--they just show up in everyday life?" Colan has an answer: "It is your interpretation that makes a situation negative. A situation doesn't drag you down or lift you up, but the way you think about it does."
2. Know your purpose.
Do you know what your purpose is as a leader, independent from your position or title? According to Colan, " inspiring coaches view their purpose as service to others."
They focus on how many people they serve versus how many people serve them. Inspiring coaches feel called to help good employees become better people. They build their employees from the inside out . . . inspiring excellence personally and professionally.
This means that the needs of others come first and that the team's success is a leader's claim to success. Inspiring coaches choose to meet the needs of their teams, despite any personal discomfort. Your feelings must be subordinated to the demands of a higher cause--serving your team. To serve your team well, you must connect with and invest in them.
3. Know your values.
"Being an inspiring coach is as much about who you are as it is about what you do," explains Colan. As a leader, your character should be rooted in your values, although that's not always the case, unfortunately, for every leader.
But it's your unique values, not your circumstances or fleeting feelings, that should dictate your decisions and behavior every day. "Your values about people and performance should guide your approach to coaching your team, says Colan.
While values like excellence, honesty, and openness are concepts that may be hard to put your finger on, "Once you convert those values into behaviors you can observe, then you can measure, manage, and live them," asserts Colan.
4. Know your emotions.
Inspiring coaches master their emotions and deal with them effectively. As a result, they are able to keep the main objective in mind and communicate their goal without getting caught up in their emotions. They move from being emotional to being emotionally intelligent.
"Controlling your emotions does not mean being emotionless," says Colan. In fact, he adds, "most people like and appreciate emotion as long as it is appropriate and constructive. Mastering your emotions enables you to intentionally elevate or calm your own and others' emotions to achieve a desired outcome."
As the leader and coach, when you are aware of your emotions and keep an eye on the outcome instead of needing to be right, you can de-escalate the emotional tone of the conversation and enable clearer heads to work toward the desired outcome. It's a win-win.