Situational Leadership - Coaching

Situational Leadership Coaching is one of the four phases in the Situational Leadership Model. In the Coaching phase of the model, the follower now has a basic grasp of the task or job, though is not yet independently proficient. The leader's role then is to coach; that is, to have the follower do as much of the task as he or she is able and to step in when the follower has questions, hits a road block, or is going off track.

For example, a subject matter expert decides she wants to be a trainer. She takes a train the trainer course. At this point, she grasps what training is, how to structure it, how to involve the participants and how to do knowledge checks. Great!

However, the second she walks into a classroom, she will realize that there is a great deal about group dynamics and how to facilitate that she has yet to master. So, best case, she could co-train with the leader, receive real time coaching and improve her facilitation skills.

Remember that in this phase, the person receiving coaching is still learning. Break down complex tasks into phases or sections. Project Management, for example is a complex skill with multiple learning points: budgeting, planning, leadership, communication, procurement, resource management, etc. The person learning may learn these components at different speeds. Therefore, while you may be in the coaching phase with budgeting, you may be in directing for procurement and delegation with communication.

Situational Leadership Coaching Tip

Be alert to the follower who is enthusiastic but doesn't yet know what they don't know. Be ready with a safety net! While harnessing enthusiasm is a good thing, it's also good to have knowledge and skill validation before moving on to supporting.

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Situational Leadership Coaching

As a good Situational Leadership Coach you will want to be aware of your own behavior as well as the behavior of the person receiving coaching. Our coaching behavior must change to meet the skill and will level of the employee. From time to time ask yourself the following:

  • Does the employee have the skill and knowledge to move forward? If yes, move. If no, diagnose the issue. Do you both need to move back to Directing? Were the original directions and parameters clear? Has the situation changed since you began coaching? How much more time will the employee need in coaching and what specifically will move them forward?
  • If the employee has the skill and knowledge and you are still in coaching, examine your own behavior. Are you enjoying coaching so much you are keeping the employee in coaching when they are ready to move forward?