Articles // February 16,2021

Coaching Crucial Conversations: Coaching at the interfaces that matter

By Venkataraman Subramanyan

The chain is only as strong as its weakest link – in Executive Coaching, I have realized that the weakest link is in the 4 interfaces that every “Leader as a Coach” needs to navigate:

⦁ Coaching to crucial conversations with their team members/peers/managers
⦁ Coaching their team as a group, to achieve better outcomes in team meetings
⦁ Coaching their clients and partners to unleash more value in the conversation
⦁ Coaching in Leadership settings that showcases gravitas and ability to manage up

Each of these interfaces provides a plethora of observations that helps the “Leader Coach” to “up their game”. In observing hundreds of such interactions over the past many years, I have distilled some basics that I hope would benefit many of you, as you aspire to become better leaders and coaches.

1. Every powerful meeting is 3 parts preparation, 1-part execution: It still amazes me how many leaders “wing” their meetings. If only they had the humility and the discipline to set aside some time for preparation, their coaching engagements could have had a multiplier impact. Simple anticipation and preparation around the other persons’ mindsets, beliefs, assumptions and their realities would go a long way in conducting the conversation better, in addition to guiding them to discover more within the coaching conversation.

2. The importance of sequencing SQ, EQ, IQ and XQ: If we understand how the human brain works, it then becomes easier for us to coach.

Safety Quotient, SQ – At the base of our brain lies the amygdala, also called the “survival brain” or the “reptilian brain”. This part of the brain has only 4 responses: fight, flight, freeze or flock. Understanding these responses is key for every “leader coach” to establish a “container of safety” within which their team could have an open and honest conversation. Without this SQ, the team only engages in superficial conversations that addresses only the visible portion of the proverbial iceberg.

Emotional Quotient, EQ – Just above the survival brain lies the limbic brain, which is the seat of emotions. For two people to have a meaningful conversation, the other person needs to feel understood, which is the root of empathy (EQ). The Leader Coach needs to proactively establish and demonstrate empathy within the conversation genuinely. This empathy goes a long way in building trust within the conversation and avoids “artificial harmony” in team settings

Intellectual Quotient (IQ) – Once safety and empathy is established, your role as a coach is to elicit the intellectual horsepower of your coachee. IQ is a two-way street with the coach demonstrating their IQ through the quality of their questions that allows the coachee to “stretch” their thinking. The best questions allow the coachee to discover their own solutions.

Execution Quotient (XQ) – The ability to maximize value within a time limit. XQ comes with preparation and experience – the ability of the “leader Coach” to demonstrate XQ is showcased when the coachee/customer/partner acknowledges that their time spent has been the best time spent in the last one month.

3. See with your eyes, hear with your ears, sense with your intuition: Our intuition tells the thinking mind what to do next – in Coaching, intuition plays a very important role to assess what truly is going on. It is not uncommon to see leaders “blunder on” in the conversation without really observing or reacting to the cues from the other person. This is especially true in customer/partner environments when the “leader Coach” is driven by their own agendas rather than that of the customer/partner. Building that curiosity to observe micro-expressions, and creating the space to react appropriately, has the potential to maximize a meaningful, powerful interaction

4. Building and leveraging some creative tension within the conversation: Future leaders walk towards fear, uncertainty and ambiguity. In order to get the best out of coaching conversations, “leader Coaches” need to build that element of tension in the conversation. This tension is created by the coach walking the coachee into their unknown, or by the conscious creation of conflict in the conversation to spur newer, better ways of thinking. Leveraging frameworks to “stretch” people’s thinking also creates tension. Creative tension is a Coach’s ally – it is their ability to create that “zone of discomfort” that creates the environment to achieve more in the coaching conversation.

5. Measuring the value of the Coach through the other party’s reactions and actions: I often reiterate to my coachees: “It is not about you and your smartness; it is all about them discovering and acting on their greatness”. The Leader Coach needs to stop measuring themselves through their actions but start measuring themselves through the reactions and actions taken by the Coachee. This is so applicable in sales as well – what actions did the customer take at the end of the call. It is the acknowledgements and the actions at the end of every meeting that showcases the value in the coaching conversation.

Leadership is a journey, and Coaching is the leaders’ engine to drive and sustain change. The pointers above are simplified, synthesized and sequenced from experience and I hope that you would put them to good use.

Translate Insights into your Coaching and Leadership initatives Get Started >>>

Explore

×
×

In my career leading and building high-performing teams, I enjoy inspiring & coaching employees to unlock their potential for maximum performance. The team's success is my deepest delight. Global Coaching Lab provides the platform to put this into practice every day and fulfill my passion of making others great.




          How are you bridging your gap between your leadership potential and your life purpose?

          The VUCA* world today demands a different set of skills for leaders to navigate and thrive. It is our belief that a holistic, interconnected and a multi-perspective approach is necessary now, for leaders to discover and develop a broader set of skills, competencies and behaviours needed to navigate a fast-changing environment. When this new approach is aided by expert facilitation, the potential for blended learning, and opportunities for peer coaching; the possibilities for positive change in leaders are multiplied.
          *VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous)

          Leaders are now discovering that their knowledge and skills that enabled them to become leaders, are no longer sufficient to address the complex challenges facing them today and in the future. Leaders need more knowledge, better skills, and more effective behaviours that can transform their leadership for the 21st century.

          You will enter this workshop with your Leadership Challenge clearly defined – this will help you keep your challenge at the centre, while you leverage the various perspectives, to discover possibilities through

          • Physical Perspective
          • Managerial Perspective
          • Psychological Perspective
          • Political Perspective
          • Cultural Perspective
          • Spiritual Perspective

          To connect the dots, you will engage in a meaningful powerful activity that will help you translate your insights into commitment for action.

          Through the medium of dance and music, you will learn to discover and unleash the Archetypes within you – these are the hidden powers and emotions that exist within all of us, that we call upon at will, to achieve more.

          DOWNLOAD BROCHURE

          Amplifying your Voice, Empowering your Identity and Discovering your Purpose

          In today’s VUCA world, the successful and smart enterprises are those that leverage the power of diversity to drive innovation. The least common denominator for diversity and paradoxically its greatest common multiplier is gender diversity. There is so much untapped potential that women professionals possess - organizations that can invest into increasing and empowering their diverse talent, are the ones that are poised to secure their future.

          It is our belief that women hold tremendous potential. We believe that with the right knowledge, skills, and resources any woman can become her best. Our VIP Women engagement is an investment for every woman to attain her true potential.

          DOWNLOAD BROCHURE

          Your leadership is about securing your future by Prioritising, Synthesising, and Sequencing the present.
          Recent events have taught us that,

          • Caring for the planet yields greater results in the longer term
          • Embracing technology accelerates ability to innovate
          • Collaborating with ecosystem maximises chances to thrive
          • People and their Productivity get multiplied in an environment of sustainability and technology within the ecosystem

          Our view of the future of Leadership is STEP:

          • S – Sustainable Leadership
          • T – Technology Leadership
          • E – Ecosystem Leadership
          • P – People Leadership

          STEP is a Leadership Development approach that is holistic, interconnected, and comprehensive, so that leaders can unleash their Unlimited Potential. ‘Future Proof’ your leaders and thereby your organization.
          If you are a leader with an urge to accelerate growth within your organization, then this program is for you. Leaders who have been transformed through their experiences with us, tell us about their joys of discovery, about newer possibilities of thinking, emoting, and acting that is helping them achieve more for themselves, their teams, and their organization.