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One of the biggest challenges leaders face today is how to move on from industrial age leadership. Thankfully there is a new school of thought that is starting to emerge. I came across Michael’s book about a year ago. Knowing that he was one of the coaching industry’s up and coming thought leaders, I knew it was a must-read. As expected, it offers the reader good coaching habits to follow. However, I quickly discovered that this book isn’t just for business coaches.

“It’s a subtle distinction, but it’s an important one,” Michael explains. “Coaching requires formal training, a clientele; coaching is a profession. Whereas all I want the reader to consider is how to be more ‘coach-like’.”  As a coach, I always try to build strong relationships with the people around me, and Michael believes that people in business management should look do the same. Of course, with coaching, comes the art giving advice – and according to Michael, we’re all ‘advice-giving maniacs’. “Everybody loves to give advice, but often, we’re just a little bit too quick to get there. Good coaching behaviour is to be curious for a little bit longer and to rush to action and advice a little bit slower. This is a behaviour change which is really much harder than it sounds,”

Michael states, a matter of fact. “There’s a place for advice, of course, there is, but in my book, I’m simply asking the reader to slow down and to ask a few better questions. This way, they’ll find that they have to work less hard when formulating advice and the person they’re speaking with, will feel more engaged and respected; everybody wins that way.” This behaviour change that Michael speaks of has never been as important as it is right now; it’s an extraordinary time in business management.

A New & Exciting Digital Age

The early 2000s brought with them a new era in business. We moved from the century-old industrial age, into the new and exciting digital age. The problem is that many business owners and entrepreneurs today still have an industrial age way of thinking. “The old school of thought was very much: here’s a carrot, I’m going to beat you with a stick until you reach it. Or worse still, I’ll beat you with the carrot,” Michael jokes. The truth of the matter is, however, that for the world of people management, this shift into the digital age is serious stuff. Today’s generation – the millennials – are more educated and self-aware than their predecessors everywhere, and for this reason, they require an entirely different approach to management.

“It’s all about helping the new generation to grow, rather than downloading content to them,” Michael explains. “Knowledge today is becoming increasingly less valuable. With Google and other such search engines, knowledge is available with a click of a button and millennial’s have grown up in this faced-paced learning environment. Our knowledge, our wisdom, our advice – it’s now dating immediately, and this is an important shift for every manager to consider.” Now, it’s a given that to help a person to grow, you have to give them your time – but most business owners would argue that they don’t have the time to give.

Slow down to grow faster

So, I asked Michael: how do we, as managers, slow down to grow faster? “First of all, in my book, I dispel one of the myths of business coaching – which is that it always takes a long time. I want people to realise that it can be a really fast thing; you’d be amazed at the progress you can make in just a few minutes if it’s a good focussed conversation,” Michael tells me. “The second thing to understand is that I am not trying to add coaching on to what you already do – which would be like pouring water into a full glass; it’s pointless. What I’m trying to do is change what you already do and make it more coach-like.”

Sticking with his glass of water analogy, Michael explains that he wants to change the colour of that water, not add more volume to it. As a business owner, you may think that your team needs management or sales training – but maybe your team already has the talent; maybe it’s just you that’s not getting the best out of them.

If you want to be a more effective leader, what are you going to change?

It comes down to that behaviour shift that Michael mentioned right at the start. How do you remain curious for a little bit longer and get to action and advice just a little bit slower? Rather than throwing information and advice at your team, you could be a much more effective leader by operating in their blind spot and getting an idea of what they’re not doing. This way, you could then help them to improve their performance.

Michael tells me that this is all about habit breaking; a topic covered in the very first chapter of his book. “What we’re talking about here, is shifting the way you behave as a manager and as a leader; this is done by habit breaking and habit building. You’ve probably had decades of being rewarded for your current management style; you’ve got some deep-set patterns that are going to be difficult to break. If you don’t understand how to change your habits; however, it’s going to be very hard to change and evolve as a leader.”

Get a free chapter of the book.

If you go to Michael’s website thecoachinghabit.com, you can download this chapter of his book for free. “Building new habits is one of those meta-skills. If you understand habit building, it can really help you change and elevate your game – not just in your business, but in your life as well.”

If any of this has resonated with you today, get in contact. I definitely recommend that you buy Michael’s book; if you can’t back yourself, who is going to back you? Buy it and further your knowledge.

Remember: failing to learn is learning to fail.

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