Flat structures are all the rage, but leading them, by definition, is a tricky exercise.
Share this article
Leadership, when combined with sensitive coaching and expert mentoring, is designed to free and empower employees. This is achieved by allowing them to pursue any project or task fitting the objectives of the organisation.
By giving them greater ownership and responsibility you will empower them to be truly engaged and highly motivated. One way to ensure success is to clearly communicate what the values, outcomes and objectives are rather than telling colleagues how to achieve them.
The first step is to show transparency around the business model, mission & purpose. Sharing knowledge about why & how decisions are made and building teams who are confident in their ability to lead and take decisions.
It is vital to encourage teams to think with a strategic mindset and to be proactive rather than reactive. Once they are on board they will be better able to take ownership & responsibility for their tasks and actions.
Teams and individuals need to build resilience by encouraging useful debate, adapting to different working styles and be expertly mentored on how to give sensitive and non-judgemental feedback. All levels need to be able to take criticism from both peers and their own teams.
Using a coaching methodology for `1-2-1’s, meetings and appraisals enables employees to process what is going on more easily. It gives them time to think and make clearer and better decisions. It allows those higher up the organisation to show empathy, be better listeners and ask questions so as to bring out the best in their staff.
It also encourages deeper and clearer thinking, allowing time to work through potential distractions and issues. Coaching encourages a positive and solution focused mindset so essential in a flatter structure where ideas and creative thoughts are welcomed and nurtured.
Leaders who coach understand how to adapt their way of working and communication style to suit the situation. They have learnt influencing skills and are able to engage people at all levels. They understand how to bring people together and sit with them ‘in the fire’ embracing conflict and encouraging open and honest discussion.
When working with a staff member they focus on their potential by being a non-judgemental listener and reflector of ideas and issues that arise.
They will not (as they do when managing or mentoring) put forward their own ideas and suggestions during the coaching instead they remain totally convinced of the potential of those they coach. This enables staff to discover and explore hidden areas, and build their inherent ability for development.
Transpersonal coaching is now emerging and this has evolved as a result of leaders exploring more of the psychological and spiritual aspects of coaching in the workplace.
I believe it is also the result of companies recognising that employees are motivated by having health and well-being high on the list of company values.
Healthy and happy staff stay in role and this saves money on recruitment and training. (See case studies in my new book ‘Coaching Skills for Leaders in the Workplace’ Aug 2016)
As a manager or leader in the workplace you will know how vital it is to motivate your teams and enhance the skills of the people you lead. Part of your role is to help and encourage your team to be successful. Using coaching skills in the workplace you support your team members to take ownership and responsibility for their actions.
As leaders it is easy to give suggestions and jump in when the answers are clear. However, allowing people to come up with their own solutions and to work out their own strategies is far more empowering. Your people need room to grow and make mistakes without feeling pressured.
In a flatter less hierarchical structure you will be able to challenge individuals and encourage them to explore different ways of addressing a problem and to think creatively. Additionally, if you build on the success of each individual, it will inspire them to even greater achievements. This in turn increases morale and boosts self-confidence.
Shared leadership approaches don’t eliminate the leader’s role or abandon hierarchy. You as a leader still remain accountable for a group’s performance and you will need to make many final decisions.
But you and your direct reports now need to collaborate more openly and frequently in the management of a business unit. This is where the coaching model can help to foster this more consultative and open approach to leadership.
Jackie Arnold’s Book ‘Coaching Skills for Leaders in the workplace’ Robinson 2016 presents several case studies where a flatter more coaching culture has been highly successful.