The most effective leaders in any organization are those who have mastered the art of coaching. The goal of the coach should be to increase the team’s accountability, clarity, empowerment, problem-solving abilities, self-correction, confidence, integrity, personal growth, and, of course, productivity.

To enhance your coaching skills, you may need to eliminate or minimize some common (and tempting!) responses that can get in the way. These responses are ineffective because they will likely put other people on the defensive, dilute their accountability/confidence, or distract them from solving problems creatively. Here’s a list of “10 deadly missteps”:

  • Analyze — Hmm. Maybe you’re suffering from depression.
  • Judge — If you hadn’t rushed into that decision, maybe you wouldn’t be whining about it now.
  • Offer advice — Well, here’s what I would do…
  • Reject — Oh, you don’t really feel that way.
  • Ignore — (silence)
  • Disagree — You shouldn’t be upset with Tony. You’re the one who is wrong!
  • Defend — Why are you angry with Mary? She’s so nice…
  • Take over — Don’t worry. I’ll speak to Terry for you.
  • Preach — People today just don’t want to work hard!
  • Contradict — Yes, but…

Did you see anything in this list that you tend to do? Don’t worry: Most leaders use these responses from time to time. Your assignment now is to replace these responses with ones that help others solve problems, be accountable, and take action!