4 essential coaching skills for project managers

None of us really like being told what to do, do we? When Timothy Gallwey the sports coach wrote his book “Inner Game of Tennis” back in 1974 — the key difference to how he helped his tennis students to learn was that he didn’t tell them how to change their game — instead he asked them questions. We may believe that we are coaching people when really we are telling them what to do, which doesn’t help them to learn and makes them less likely to be motivated to take action.

Here are four key coaching skills that could make a massive difference to your effectiveness as a project manager.

- Focus on goal — As Steven Covey’s famous Seven Habits book quotes “Begin with the end in mind”. This skill for a project manager ensures clarity about what individuals or teams are working on and being able to clearly define measurable outcomes — making it more likely that those outcomes are achieved.

- Accountability — once outcomes are clearly defined, the project manager needs to ensure that all team members or contributors are clear about what they need to commit to, and that they are held accountable for their actions and ensuring the success of the project.

- Listening — again from Stephen Covey. “Seek first to understand, then to be understood” — as a coaching skill this is one of the most important. It is invaluable for building rapport and trust with team members and project stakeholders. Trust is the essential component in cohesive teams, based on the work of Patrick Lencioni, and listening to understand different perspectives, the undertones of what is being said (as opposed to the words being used) and being able to show understanding and allow others to feel heard, is essential in building trust.

- Direct Communication — this is another core competence for coaches — this skill enables us to respectfully and appropriately offer feedback, to appropriately challenge another viewpoint, to communicate assertively with colleagues.

So if you want to go from being a good project manager to being a great one… here’s a powerful coaching question for you… what do you need to do? Which of the above skills would have the greatest effect for you?

Are there other coaching skills that you are finding helpful to be more effective in managing change?

If you’d like to learn how you can become a more effective leader of change — get in touch. liz@realize.ie