Welcome to part 2 of “the 9 must have life skills”. In part 1 I talked about the first three life skills namely; the skill of influencing; the skill of delegation and the skill of persuasion. Click here to read “The 9 must have life skills part 1”. As mentioned in part 1 this article will be more of help to those in a leadership role. “Leadership does not always wear the harness of compromise” ~ Woodrow Wilson. In this article I will look at the next 3 life skills. You may wonder why I call them life skills and not leadership skills, this is because we are all born leaders and we have these skills in us. The skills are mentioned randomly even though they are related.
The skill of Coaching
This is perhaps one of the most critical skills to have in relation to delegation. If you are in a leadership position you will or may have delegated some work to your subordinate(s) and the most critical area is to have confidence in your colleague. The only way confidence can be created is by way of coaching. You will only have confidence in someone if you know that they were properly coached and more especially if the coaching was done by you.
By definition “coaching is a process which supports people in developing their skills and achieving their skills”. The subject of coaching is a wide one that needs a dedicated article. I promise to do more research on this topic. There are several approaches to coaching and they all tend to be in agreement that it involves:
- Activities to develop someone’s skills and abilities. This could be either on a one to one or group basis.
- Developing targets that are both individual and group oriented. This is very common in sports related activities.
- Focus on improving performance this could be individual or team.
I believe the skill of coaching is equally important even in parenting. These days our children are very clever and they need to be coached in order to get the maximum benefit from their academic work. The speed at which they learn is amazingly fast and as a parent you just need to keep up with them. A good leader should be able to coach, that is imparting some of his skills to his colleagues. A good leader is judged by how knowledgeable his team members are.
Feedback is inter-linked with the skill of coaching. I regard feedback as a form of communication. Feedback serves two main purposes:
- Motivation – when a team is performing well, feedback can increase confidence and encourage the team to perform at the same high or even higher level.
- Correction – this is also true when a team is not performing at the expected level, feedback can be used to assess how to change and improve performance for the better.
This skill (feedback) can be very critical in following instances;
- When providing coaching support. At this point there is feedback from both the coach and the student. As coaching involves the setting of goals the student has to give feedback on the progress and what difficulties are being encountered. The coach also has to give feedback on the modification of the program if need be.
- Reviewing how a delegated activity is progressing. When you delegate work there is need for feedback from both ends to ascertain that the job is being done correctly and the person delegated has understood the instructions.
- Conducting management reviews and appraisals. In a work environment as a leader you will be required to conduct employment appraisals for your juniors. Appraisals are a two way assessment. The person being assessed gives feedback to his appraiser and vice versa.
- Handling conflict – this is discussed below.
- Facilitating – this is also discussed in part 3.
For feedback to be appreciated it has to be positive. The following are a few tips for ensuring positive feedback:
- Feedback has to be specific and to the point.
- Feedback has to be fair and sincere. This will ensure maximum or intended results to be achieved with minimum difficulty.
- Feedback should be descriptive and focused on action and not on an individual.
- Feedback can also be futuristic. This is especially important for corrective feedback.
Remember that feedback is a very vital skill for both good leaders and managers.
The skill of conflict handling
The final skill to be dealt with in this part is the skill of handling conflicts. I would be safe to assume that every one of us have had to resolve some feud of some sort. It doesn’t matter how it was resolved but it was done.
Conflict handling is vital to all human beings whether in leadership roles or not. Yet this is one skill that many of us do not want to have or use. A good leader should know how to resolve conflicts among his team members. This is vital because unresolved conflicts can be very detrimental to the team as a whole.
The first step in handling conflicts is to be aware of the possible reason behind the conflict. A mini investigation can be conducted to ascertain the cause. By definition some conflicts are easier to handle than others. Some cases can be very difficult to handle that you may require a third party to help resolve them.
Firstly you need to understand as the person in charge that conflict is not necessarily a bad thing. There is bound to be conflicts were two or more people are gathered. You will also appreciate that if conflicts are resolved properly they can add a lot of motivation to the group, by making the team understand each other even better.
There are however different approaches to handling conflicts. I know for sure that most of us do not want to handle conflicts or would rather find the easy way out. Unfortunately there is no shortcut. I believe conflicts have to be faced head on. Whichever method is used please ensure that the parties involved are satisfied with the resolution. I know that it is impossible to please all, but always look at the bigger picture and what is beneficial to the aggrieved parties.
I feel that the topic on coaching has not been done much justice. I will be writing a whole article on this very challenging topic so you can have an insight of what coaching is all about. The skill of coaching is a must have for all. “I believe that the mind-set that allows you to spend your working life thinking and congratulating people rather than being unpleasant to them is the mainstay of good leadership” ~ Tim Waterstone. Bye for now and remember to always “standout tall and be counted”.