THE ENABLING MANAGER

THE ENABLING MANAGER

Author: Myles Downey
Review by: Monique Vander Eyken

What does Lead, Manage and Coach mean to you? Think about that meaning pre Covid then think about post Covid. Does it mean the same? The pandemic had definitely created dramatic shifts in working practices and the expectations of people in work. You know as much as I do that the world has changed and so has the way people managers manage people. How about putting a high performer into a management role and assuming since they are a high performer, they will be great at managing. Did you know that 71% of UK organizations admit that they fail to effectively train first-time managers? They could well know their subject inside out, but that will be irrelevant if they do not have the skills required to teach.

Downey explains not only how to lead a team in this post Covid world but ensuring you lead in a modern-day world. What does that mean exactly, read on and you will see what I mean.

It refers to a culture that’s appropriate for the people in work now. He calls it align and enable.

Align and enable includes three skills at which the team manager should be proficient: Lead, Manage and Coach:

Lead is about the Why

Manage is about the What

Coach is about the How

In this book, there is a significant emphasis on Coaching. This is because this is where the approach differs most from command and control. Coaching is key to enabling as defined by Downey.

Downey explains how the much-maligned millennials are pointing the way. Their desire for work requires an approach to leadership that seeks to align and enable rather than command and control.

If you have responsibility for the performance of other people, then it is your task to align and enable so that both they and the organization survive and thrive.

Downey goes on to explain the four activities of an enabling leader

  • Relate: every great team is built on the foundation of good relationships (Enable)
  • Lead: to provide context – to explain why the work is being done (Align)
  • Manage: to communicate the practicalities – to explain what work needs to be done and what the business requires in terms of processes and procedures (Align)
  • Coach: to work with your team to determine how the work will be done (Enable)

The Enabling Leader model gives you the tools you need to significantly reduce much of the interference that people experience in their work. And the core of this is to clarify and agree the Why, What and How. We all work better when we understand why our work is valuable. Good team leaders provide a clear context for the work of their team.

Leading doesn’t always mean you have to set the vision but you must remind people what that vision is and how to align it with individual team members’ aspirations.

When someone asks you to coach, what does that mean, well the way Downey explains it is the art of facilitating: it really means enabling someone to think something through for themselves; to have an insight or creative idea and not to tell them what to do. Telling them what to do is the old way of managing and not the way our current generations want to have it done.

Downey explains that by choosing to coach, you demonstrate trust and respect for your team. You also give them the chance to use their knowledge, skills and insights. They are more involved, feel valued and, as a result, become more committed to the success of the team and the business. Doesn’t this sound a lot better than telling everyone what to do.

I have been in organizations that have to control everything a team does and then other organizations that guide the teams and watch them excel. I was truly impressed when I read this book, at the ways a coach/manager should be doing their job. Downey even goes as far as providing experiments to try at the end of every chapter to really help those that may require a little guidance on leading a team in this new way.

Downey further reviews what the GROW model is and refers to it throughout his book. The GROW model is a useful framework that capture key stages that are used mostly in successful coaching conversations. They need to understand how to recover and move forward. Instead of jumping in to save the day, you decide to help them understand themselves and their situation more fully, so that they can make better decisions in the future.

To become great team leaders, we need to embrace the expertise in our teams and develop a finely honed ability to identify when to use Lead, when to use Manage and when to use Coach.

In summary, there are a number of issues to bear in mind: • Team leaders need to lead: be role models for the desired values and behaviours • Team leaders need to manage, and have a responsibility to both their team members and the organization to do so • Team leaders –need to agree clear goals for their direct reports; • Team leaders need to hold their direct reports to account for the goals that have been agreed • Once the goals have been agreed, the team leader needs to coach their team members to achieve the agreed goal.

It staggers us that there are still organizations where the team leaders set development goals for their team members. This demotivates and undermines responsibility

Thankfully, most modern organizations are more enlightened than that, and allow for self-assessment and for employees to identify their own goals, or are they??

There is no set recipe for being a great team leader. Downey covers many different ways and sometimes we need to step back and see what is going well and what is not going so well and why that is happening. If you do not want to be one of those managers that lose great team players you need to learn how to let them grow and step back and guide/coach them.

Every leader is unique, what is your way of leading?

Published by LID Publishing

Monique Vander Eyken, HR Consultant – MVE Consulting