Become a LeaderCoach. Future smiley faces are counting on us.

I dreamt of millennial emoticons running rampant and ruling the world…

Then I awoke with strangely contorted facial expressions. *sigh*

Last week I attended a Chief Learning Officer Webinar titled The Effectiveness of Leaders as Coaches. The presentation was given by Karie Willyerd, CEO of Jambok, an informal social learning platform and who was also formerly chief learning officer for Sun Microsystems.

According to the the Future Workplace stats, 50% of the workforce in 2020 will be Millennials, eclipsing Gen X.

That’s me (Gen X). And some of you as well.

And that means a lot of inexperienced individuals will be thrust into leadership positions, managing many who are older than they are.

Buying a canned training program and dumping it into the laps of your manager trainees and telling them to learn isn’t going to cut it. Even though this happens a lot in today’s SMB world.

What we need (and will need) is much more leader-led development. We call it being a LeaderCoach. Time and again studies show that high work satisfaction and fulfillment are strongly correlated to how the manager or leader relates to key employees. Coaching is a bridge to improved relationships, retention, employee engagement, productivity and developing future leaders.

According to Karie, the benefits of leader-led development include:

  • Cost – embedding development in work avoids costly face-to-face formal development programs
  • Time – the pace of change is so significant that leaders are able to provide development real time
  • Context – leaders can add meaning and context to learning
  • Scalability – learning functions typically do not have the resources to address the volume of learning needs

It doesn’t take a lot to develop this culture. When I was at HRmarketer, we went from annual performance reviews to empowered and shared career development to regularly scheduled one-on-one meetings to continuous informal learning to a mentoring environment. In essence, everybody became a LeaderCoach of sorts to help development any new employees/interns we brought onboard.

Becoming a LeaderCoach helps you:

  1. Understand the challenges facing their organization with regard to increasing the performance of their people
  2. Identify the key people in which they want to invest time and energy
  3. Define their role as leader in retaining high performers
  4. Cultivate a collaborative approach to the coaching relationship
  5. Develop finer coaching skills like identifying the natural talents of key employees
  6. Learn to identify “coaching moments” to take advantage of real-time coaching opportunities

But to get to leader-led development — to become a LeaderCoach — we have to ensure we’re doing that ourselves.

That we’re leading ourselves first with emotional intelligence. Remember to keep the sweet spot in the flow.

Future smiley faces are counting on us.

Be better and brighter.


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