Moving From Command & Control to Coaching & Collaboration: Gina and Nicola Of Let’s Break Up, Toxic Workplace Stories On How Leaders and Managers Can Become Better Coaches
Foster a Culture of Growth: Leaders must create a culture that values growth and development and encourages team members to take ownership of their learning. This involves creating opportunities for training and development, encouraging knowledge-sharing and collaboration, and promoting a growth mindset.
The number one leadership initiative in any organization today is improved coaching. Coaching empowers employees, empowerment drives engagement, and engagement drives performance. At its core, coaching is about transformation. Leading distributed teams requires transforming how we coach and changing our play calls and playbooks to get things done. As a part of our interview series called “Moving From Command & Control to Coaching & Collaboration; How Leaders and Managers Can Become Better Coaches,” we had the pleasure to interview Nicola and Gina
Nicola and Gina are the hosts of the popular podcast “Let’s Break Up: Toxic Workplace Stories”. The duo is on a mission to help people escape the clutches of toxic work environments and cultivate positivity in the workplace. By sharing real-life experiences of workplace toxicity and offering practical solutions, Nicola and Gina have become a go-to source for anyone looking to create a happier, healthier work environment. Join them weekly as they explore the various forms of toxicity in the workplace and promote solidarity and a sense of community among listeners.
Thank you for joining us to explore a critical inflection point in how we define leadership. Our readers would like to get to know you better. What was a defining moment that shaped who you are as a leader?
Thank you for having us! As hosts of the “Let’s Break Up: Toxic Workplace Stories” podcast, we believe that a defining moment that shaped who we are as leaders was when we both realized the impact that toxic workplaces can have on individuals and teams. We saw how negativity and toxicity can drain motivation, creativity, and overall wellbeing from individuals and can affect team morale and productivity. This realization sparked our desire to create a platform to share experiences and provide practical solutions to cultivate positivity in the workplace. Through our podcast, we strive to inspire individuals to become leaders in their own right by promoting a sense of community, solidarity, and encouraging positive workplace culture.
John C. Maxwell is credited with saying, “A leader is someone who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” How do you embody that quote as a leader?
We believe that embodying John C. Maxwell’s quote as leaders means that we need to be authentic, empathetic, and transparent. We know the way by sharing real-life experiences of workplace toxicity and offering practical solutions to create a positive work environment. We go the way by promoting positivity and cultivating a sense of community among our listeners. Finally, we show the way by being transparent about our own struggles and leading by example. By embodying these values, we hope to inspire our listeners to become leaders in their own right and promote positive change in their workplaces.
How do you define the differences between a leader as a manager and a leader as a coach?
We believe that the difference between a leader as a manager and a leader as a coach is that a manager typically focuses on supervising and directing their team’s work, whereas a coach focuses on empowering and developing their team.
As a manager, you might set goals, delegate tasks, and evaluate performance, but as a coach, you prioritize your team’s growth and development. You help your team members identify their strengths and weaknesses, provide guidance and support, and encourage them to take ownership of their work.
In short, while a manager is responsible for ensuring that tasks are completed, a coach is responsible for ensuring that their team is growing, developing, and thriving. Both roles are important, but we believe that a coach-like leadership approach is especially critical when it comes to creating positive and supportive workplace cultures.
We started our conversation by noting that improved coaching is the number one leadership initiative in any organization today. What are some essential skills and competencies that leaders must have now to be better coaches?
First and foremost, leaders must have strong communication skills to effectively communicate with their team members and provide feedback. They should also possess active listening skills to understand their team’s needs, perspectives, and ideas fully.
Secondly, leaders must be empathetic and have a deep understanding of their team’s emotions and feelings. They should be able to put themselves in their team members’ shoes, understand their struggles, and provide support.
Thirdly, leaders must be skilled at setting goals, providing guidance, and offering constructive feedback. They should have a solid understanding of their team’s strengths and weaknesses and tailor their coaching approach accordingly.
Finally, leaders must be committed to ongoing learning and development. They should be open to feedback, willing to learn from their mistakes, and consistently seeking out new opportunities for growth.
By possessing these skills and competencies, leaders can create a culture of coaching and development in their organizations that promotes growth, innovation, and success.
We’re all familiar with the adage, “You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.” How are you inspiring — rather than mandating — leaders to invest in upskilling and reskilling?
We believe that inspiring leaders to invest in upskilling and reskilling involves creating a culture of continuous learning and development that encourages individuals to take ownership of their growth.
Rather than mandating training or development initiatives, we encourage leaders to inspire their team members by leading by example. Leaders can demonstrate their commitment to ongoing learning and development by investing in their own growth, sharing their experiences and insights, and creating opportunities for their team members to learn and grow.
We also believe that leaders can inspire their teams by providing a clear sense of purpose and vision. When individuals understand how their work contributes to the larger mission and vision of the organization, they are more likely to feel motivated and engaged in their work and invest in their own development.
Finally, we encourage leaders to foster a culture of collaboration and support, where team members are encouraged to share their knowledge and skills with one another and learn from each other’s experiences.
By inspiring rather than mandating upskilling and reskilling, leaders can create a positive and supportive workplace culture that promotes growth, development, and success for all team members.
Let’s get more specific. How do you coach someone to do their best work? How can leaders coach for peak performance in our current context? What are your “Top 5 Ways That Leaders and Managers Can Be Effective Coaches?”
We believe that coaching someone to do their best work involves setting clear expectations, providing regular feedback and support, and creating a culture of growth and development. Here are our top 5 ways that leaders and managers can be effective coaches:
- Set Clear Expectations: Leaders must ensure that their team members understand what is expected of them and what success looks like. This involves setting clear goals, providing clear directions, and communicating expectations effectively. For example, we had a guest on our podcast who struggled with her performance because she didn’t understand her manager’s expectations. By working with her manager to clarify her goals and responsibilities, she was able to improve her performance and contribute more effectively to the team.
- Provide Regular Feedback: Leaders must provide regular, constructive feedback to their team members to help them grow and develop. This involves recognizing their successes, providing guidance on areas for improvement, and supporting their growth. For example, one of our guests talked about how her manager provided regular feedback that helped her improve her public speaking skills and become more confident in her role.
- Foster a Culture of Growth: Leaders must create a culture that values growth and development and encourages team members to take ownership of their learning. This involves creating opportunities for training and development, encouraging knowledge-sharing and collaboration, and promoting a growth mindset.
- Empower and Support: Leaders must empower their team members to take ownership of their work and provide the support they need to succeed. This involves providing resources, removing obstacles, and offering guidance and mentorship. For example, we had a guest who talked about how her manager empowered her to take on new projects and provided the support she needed to succeed.
- Lead by Example: Finally, leaders must lead by example and model the behavior they expect from their team members. This involves demonstrating a commitment to ongoing learning and development, providing feedback and support, and creating a positive and supportive workplace culture. For example, we had a guest who talked about how her manager modeled a growth mindset by consistently seeking out new learning opportunities and sharing her knowledge and insights with the team.
By following these five strategies, leaders and managers can become effective coaches and help their team members achieve peak performance in our current context.
We’re leading and coaching in increasingly diverse organizations. And one aspect of workforce diversity on the rise is generational diversity. What advice would you offer about how to effectively coach a multi-generational workforce? And how do you activate the collective potential of a multi-generational workforce?
We believe that coaching a multi-generational workforce requires an understanding of the unique perspectives, values, and work styles of each generation. Here are some tips for effectively coaching a multi-generational workforce:
- Understand Generational Differences: Leaders must take the time to understand the unique characteristics and values of each generation in their workforce. This involves recognizing the different experiences and perspectives of each generation and adapting coaching and leadership styles accordingly. For example, Baby Boomers may value hard work and loyalty, while Millennials may value work-life balance and flexibility.
- Bridge Generational Differences: Leaders must create opportunities for intergenerational collaboration and learning to bridge generational differences and promote a sense of shared purpose. This involves creating cross-functional teams, mentoring programs, and knowledge-sharing opportunities that allow team members of different generations to learn from each other.
- Create a Culture of Inclusion: Leaders must create a culture of inclusion that values and respects the diversity of their workforce. This involves creating policies and practices that support diversity and inclusion, promoting open communication and feedback, and ensuring that all team members feel valued and heard.
- Focus on Strengths: Leaders must focus on the strengths and abilities of each team member, regardless of their generation. This involves recognizing the unique skills and contributions of each team member and providing opportunities for growth and development.
To activate the collective potential of a multi-generational workforce, leaders must create a culture that promotes collaboration, innovation, and continuous learning. This involves creating opportunities for team members of different generations to work together, share their experiences and perspectives, and learn from each other. By leveraging the strengths of each generation and creating a culture of inclusion and collaboration, leaders can activate the collective potential of their multi-generational workforce.
You’re referring to emotional intelligence, in a sense. What are two steps every leader can take to demonstrate a higher level of emotional intelligence?
Yes, emotional intelligence is an essential aspect of effective leadership and coaching. Here are two steps every leader can take to demonstrate a higher level of emotional intelligence:
Practice Active Listening: Active listening involves fully engaging with the speaker, focusing on what they are saying, and demonstrating empathy and understanding. Leaders can practice active listening by paying attention to non-verbal cues, asking clarifying questions, and summarizing what the speaker has said. By practicing active listening, leaders can build stronger relationships with their team members, demonstrate empathy, and create a culture of open communication.
Manage Your Emotions: Emotionally intelligent leaders understand their own emotions and are able to manage them effectively. This involves recognizing triggers, regulating emotions, and responding appropriately to different situations. Leaders can manage their emotions by taking time to reflect and process their emotions, practicing mindfulness and self-care, and seeking feedback from trusted colleagues. By managing their emotions effectively, leaders can maintain their composure in challenging situations, build trust with their team members, and create a positive work environment.
Words matter. And we’re collectively creating a new leadership language right now. What are the most important words for leaders to use now?
The words that leaders use are crucial in shaping the culture and values of their organization. Here are some of the most important words for leaders to use now:
- Empathy: In today’s world, leaders need to demonstrate empathy and understanding towards their team members. By using language that shows empathy and compassion, leaders can create a culture of inclusivity, respect, and support.
- Collaboration: Collaboration is an essential skill for leaders in today’s complex and fast-paced work environment. Leaders can use language that promotes collaboration and teamwork, such as “let’s work together” or “let’s find a solution as a team.”
- Growth: As the world evolves, leaders need to encourage growth and development in their team members. Leaders can use language that supports growth, such as “let’s learn from this experience” or “let’s focus on developing our skills in this area.”
- Authenticity: Authenticity is critical for building trust and credibility as a leader. Leaders can use language that is genuine and transparent, such as “let me be honest with you” or “this is my perspective, but I’m open to hearing yours.”
- Gratitude: Gratitude is a powerful tool for building positive relationships and creating a culture of appreciation. Leaders can use language that expresses gratitude, such as “thank you for your hard work” or “I appreciate your contributions.” By using these words, leaders can show their team members that their work is valued and important.
I keep inspiring quotes on my desk. What’s your favorite “Life Lesson Quote,” and why does it mean so much to you?
While I think both Gina and I (Nicola) would have vastly different answers, and we both resilient leaders, I think one that sticks out to us would be:
“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” — Eleanor Roosevelt
This quote is a reminder that we have the power to shape our own future by believing in ourselves and our dreams. It encourages us to have the courage and determination to pursue our goals, even in the face of obstacles or challenges. The quote also emphasizes the importance of imagination, creativity, and optimism, which are essential qualities for success and fulfillment in life. By keeping this quote on your desk, you can stay motivated and inspired to follow your passions and create a future that is truly meaningful to you.
Our readers often like to continue the conversation. What’s the best way for readers to connect with you and to stay current on what you’re discovering?
Thank you for giving us the opportunity to experience a leadership master at work. We wish you continued success and good health!
About The Interviewer: Karen Mangia is one of the most sought-after keynote speakers in the world, sharing her thought leadership with over 10,000 organizations during the course of her career. As Vice President of Customer and Market Insights at Salesforce, she helps individuals and organizations define, design and deliver the future. Discover her proven strategies to access your own success in her fourth book Success from Anywhere and by connecting with her on LinkedIn and Twitter.