Dear Coach Alan

How do I coach different personalities?  Employees are independent and do things differently.  I would like to know how to get everyone on the same page and buy into our goals.

Brian N.

Brian, since you asked the question about how you can be more effective, I will respond to your question as if you were the leader/coach.

One of the biggest leadership mistakes executives make is to think they should treat everyone the same.  Their intentions may be good, but they are missing one of the most important facts of human behavior:  we are all unique, and we all respond differently based on our uniqueness. This is why I devoted two chapters to assessments in my book Executive Coaching and the Process of Change.  Assessments reveal each person’s uniqueness and offer a coach insight into how to relate to a coachee.

Having assessment information will greatly enhance the understanding of personal style and personality characteristic of the coachee.  For example, the DiSC, a popular leadership assessment tool, identifies several behavioral styles.  If a coachee is very direct, the coach can be more direct and focus on goals and strategies.  If, on the other hand, the coachee is highly sensitive to feedback and needs to feel appreciated, the coach’s approach may be to acknowledge the coachee’s contributions and approach feedback in a more supportive way. In either case, the coach needs to acknowledge individual differences and incorporate them into the coaching dialogue.

You raise another challenge in leadership.  How does a leader/coach get buy-in to company goals when people are so different?  While individuals are unique, this does not mean they cannot agree on goals.  Each individual has a role to play in the overall plan for reaching organizational goals.  The leader has the responsibility to make sure individuals are doing their part to contribute to the organizational goals.

This may sound complex, but it really isn’t.  The paradigm is straight-forward.  If a leader/coach is clear on the overall goal and all are on board with it, the role of the leader will be to oversee individual goal progress and the integration of individual goals into the overall goal.

In summary, leaders need to be coaches.  Leader/coaches need to understand individual differences. These differences will determine the best way to coach each individual.  This, in turn will help create individual goal attainment.  The result of individual goal attainment should lead to overall goal attainment for the leader/coach’s business unit.

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