Is it time to train up the next generation of business leaders in your organization? Do you plan to do it internally or hire a business consultant who specializes in guidance and mentorship?
Today, executive coaching is a tricky business, because different workplaces hold different expectations on their leaders. Does your organization take a traditional approach to the corporate framework or are you moving away from supervision to a model that places greater emphasis on creativity and self-determination?
As a subset of business consulting, lean executive coaching is a specialty for organizations looking to develop a generation of lean leaders. As individuals, lean leaders understand how to quickly analyze and process information, which can change rapidly in a competitive market. They can then offer leadership, feedback, and guidance to team members.
Lean leaders are mentors rather than supervisors. As a result, the worst question they can put to a teammate is: “Can I help you?” This may be surprising as it seems like a reasonably well-intentioned innocuous question. But when the purpose is to allow team members to exercise their skills and polish problem solving, it ends up backing team members into a corner. It obligates them to forego their research and knowledge and accept help from someone who might not possess the same minutiae of detail—often a problem in large organizations.
Executive coaching teaches lean leaders to be highly invested in the success of their team members. It’s a hand-off approach with several benefits. The most significant is prioritizing—team leaders are not pulled in to assist with busy work. Momentum stays with the team who continue to build up skills and experience. Most team members who have reached this point rarely want supervisors to interfere.
If a team member appears to be struggling or falling behind, the best approach is for managers to show support differently. Seek to understand the project. It’s okay (maybe even necessary) to delve into the details with an inquisitive mind. Take the time to listen as team members talk through a problem, recognizing that sometimes a wealth of experience could be of assistance, but it can also be an impediment.
It’s beneficial to encourage team members to reach outside the normal chain of command to clear their obstacles. Get them to work directly with team members from other departments who may be able to assist. This is useful for nurturing cohesion and understanding within an organization, because it allows people to develop and appreciate different perspectives.
The most important idea in lean leadership is learning how to advocate for team members, and promote ideas throughout the organization. A good leader will echo team ideas up and across the organization, rather than imposing their ideas down onto team members under the guise of help.
In business consulting, leadership training is based on three main premises:
One of the most critical tasks of a business consultant is working to align team members around shared organizational goals. The only way lean leadership works is if everyone is pulling in the same direction.
A lean business consultant will work with organizations, providing team leaders with the tools and training to allow their team members to work independently, and exercise their creativity and problem-solving skills. For organizations that truly want to leverage their human capital, working with a business consultant who specializes in executive coaching is one of the most effective ways to develop new generation leaders who understand the value of respect, learning, and continuous improvement.