Add Coaching and Trust to Boost Your Leadership Development Curriculum
The Ken Blanchard Companies' Situational Leadership® II leadership development program has been put into practice by millions of managers over the past thirty years. But that doesn’t mean leadership development should stop there, says Scott Blanchard, a principal and executive vice president with the company.
“Situational Leadership® II (SLII®) is a model that teaches managers how to set clear goals, diagnose development levels, and determine the correct leadership style to bring out the best in people. It provides a foundational management framework,” Blanchard says.
To help managers who have gone through SLII but are looking for the next level of skill development, Blanchard suggests the addition of both coaching and trust modules.
“Specifically, managers are looking to take a deeper dive into the leadership styles we identify as Coaching and Supporting. What we have found through our research is that 75 percent of the time, these two leadership styles are called on the most by leaders to match the development level of a direct report on a task.”
Our new Coaching Essentials program helps managers shift into a coaching mindset, which is all about being in service to the person you are working with. Most experienced managers are comfortable with setting goals and holding people accountable for achieving them, but they still need to work on providing direction and support along the way.”
Blanchard explains it is important for a manager to know how to shift gears and facilitate a discussion in partnership with a direct report. A coaching mindset is also helpful in areas that aren’t specifically related to a task, such as conversations between manager and direct report that focus on career or personal development.
“Managers, of course, have to get their job done—but there is an implied expectation that a manager also will be ready to help an employee see the bigger picture regarding their development, both personally and professionally within the organization.”
Blanchard shares that coaching skills also can help a manager who is faced with a situation where there is not an apparent answer or a manager who doesn’t have the expertise to direct next steps. “A manager who uses the coaching process can guide a direct report in identifying a problem and looking at options that may result in a solution.”
Trust as a Foundation
Managers need to be able to provide a foundation of trust if they are going to be successful directing the work of others, says Blanchard. The key is to assess a team’s perception of their manager’s trustworthiness and then identify the behaviors that may be undermining trust levels.
"In our Building Trust program, we teach four pillars of interpersonal trust—being perceived as Able, Believable, Connected, and Dependable. We highlight the word perceived because trust is ultimately determined by each direct report’s perceptions and experiences of the manager’s behavior. Managers need to know how they stand in their employees’ eyes against these four components of trust."
Some managers who believe they act in consistently trustworthy fashion may be surprised when they find out some of their observable behaviors undermine their good intentions. Blanchard shares a personal observation to illustrate the point.
“I try to be trustworthy—and I think I generally am. In using the assessment that comes along with our Building Trust program, I score well in the areas of Able, Believable, and Connected. Dependable is the one that gives me trouble! I have to work continuously to make sure my habits in the areas of responsiveness and timeliness are on track.”
Blanchard explains that trust is an all-or-nothing proposition—there’s no benefit if people sort of trust you. A high level of trust enables stretch goals, more innovation, and more proactive behaviors. “It’s easy to give yourself credit for being good at three of the factors and to discount the fourth as not important. In my own case, I could make all sorts of excuses for my lack of timeliness or responsiveness. But for some people, if you’re not timely and responsive you’re not dependable and you’re not trustworthy. So this is a really great framework and model for opening up discussions on trust and how to improve.”
In tying together trust, coaching, and a situational approach to leadership, Blanchard likes to point out a natural connection between all three programs.
“Good management starts with the realization that leadership is a partnership. All three of these programs reinforce the importance of self awareness and having an accurate picture of how others perceive you through your behaviors. From there, you learn a mindset of service—because leadership is all about serving others in pursuit of common goals. Finally, you make sure your behaviors match your intentions. By participating in a curriculum that includes trust and coaching skills, you can learn to be the type of leader who always provides the right amount of direction and support and helps everyone win.”