Coaching over the phone or in person is effective. Watching your coachee in action is even better. Here are four proven tools to elevate your coaching impact by observing your coachees in the workplace.


Coaching ToolsIn our last post, Effective Executive Coaching: Watching Players Play, we made the case that to effectively coach leaders, you have to watch them lead. After all, it would be hard to coach an athlete without seeing him or her in action–a baseball player swinging a bat or soccer player on the field. The same applies to leadership and executive coaching.

The question is…what should you observe?

The intent of this post is to answer that question and provide you with proven coaching tools so that you can more effectively observe leaders in the workplace and set yourself apart as a leadership and executive coach.


Tool #1: Results and Relationships – Two Leadership Dimension

Coaching tools measure your impactOne tool we use to observe leaders in the workplace is based on our Results and Relationships model. Our belief is that great leaders strive to exceed on both dimensions of results and relationships. We also know that leaders generally have a tendency or a preference for one or the other, especially under stress. When out of balance, there are implications. For example, a leader who emphasizes results at the expense of relationships often creates an environment of compliance where she gets results, but through external motivation and not true commitment from her people. On the other hand, a leader who emphasizes relationships without enough focus on results often has avoidant tendencies and can be viewed as passive.

So, the first coaching tool employs holistic observation and evaluation of your coachee’s behaviors in the workplace.

From a results perspective:

  • Does the leader communicate a clear and compelling vision?
  • Does she set clear expectations?
  • Is she meeting her performance standards and goals?

From a relationship perspective:

  • How well does the leader understand her impact on people, process and the business?
  • Is she able to stay in communication with peers who have competing priorities?
  • Does she collaborate well with others?


Tool #2: Watch for Derailers

Technical skills rarely derail leaders in the workplace. Behavioral tendencies do. Here are some common and costly derailers that limit leaders’ effectiveness and often stop them in their career tracks.

  • Egocentric behaviors: puts self and personal agenda over team and organizational needs
  • Controlling tendencies: controls information; keeps data from others
  • Micromanagement: micromanages people instead of focusing on outcomes
  • Conflict avoidance: takes an overly passive approach; avoids conflict; gives away power

These derailers are often blind spots for leaders–weaknesses about which  the leader is unaware.. By looking for these derailers, you can show leaders something they cannot see for themselves.


Tool #3: Understand How Core Needs Drive Behavior

Tony Robbins, a well-known motivational speaker and life coach, identified six human needs that drive our behaviors on a daily basis. You, as a coach, can help your coachees build awareness of how these needs drive a leader’s behaviors so that they can make sustainable change in their effectiveness.

Certainty: The need for safety, stability, security, comfort, order, predictability, control and consistency.

Variety: The need for surprise, challenges, excitement, chaos, adventure, change and novelty.

Significance: The need to have meaning, be needed, feel a sense of importance, and be worthy of love.

Love and Connection: The need for communication, approval and attachment, and  to feel connected with, intimate and loved by, other human beings.

Growth: The need for emotional, intellectual and spiritual development.

Contribution: The need to give beyond ourselves, care, protect and serve others.

We all strive to meet our core needs, in both healthy and unhealthy ways. As you observe your coachees in the workplace, help them:

  • Build awareness of their driving needs.
  • See where they are fulfilling those needs in a healthy and constructive way.
  • Understand how those needs are being met in unhealthy or destructive ways.


Tool #4: Observe the Whole –  Team Dynamics

Most senior and executive leaders operate on multiple teams. For example, they often lead a function of the business and are asked to be on a cross-functional leadership team with their peers from other parts of the organization. The challenge for senior and executive leaders is that they often see their leadership team as “team in name only.” While in leadership team meetings, they may be more focused on getting back to real work than being engaged and tapping into each other’s strengths and knowledge. Here’s a leadership tool that you can print and bring to a leadership team meeting to assess team dynamics. This meeting checklist looks at the what (content and structure of meetings) and the how (relationships and dynamics between team members).


How to Apply This in Your Leadership Development and Coaching Programs

All of these coaching tools can be used to help a leader understand his or her impact on others and the business.

From there, you can create an action plan online in Coachmetrix so that you and your coachee have clarity on what the coachee will work on throughout the coaching and/or leadership engagement.

Even better, you can start measuring progress using the pulse feedback mechanism in Coachmetrix to prove your coaching impact.

It’s time to take your coaching to the next level because (1) you’ll add more value for your client; (2) you’ll accelerate behavioral change; and (3) you’ll be able to charge higher fees because you’ll literally be able to prove your impact.

What are some of the coaching tools and techniques you use to observe your coachees in the workplace?

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