“We heard your voice in our head” How to empower your team to create their own solutions

I was reading “The Coaching Habit” by Michael Bungay Stanier recently and in it he warns about the potential for managers who coach running the risk of debilitating their teams because they can become dependent on their boss for the answers. It’s an interesting read. 

It got me thinking about a comment from a client recently. She said: “we were preparing a proposal and got to doing the pricing bit, and I heard your voice in my head saying that we should be charging more. We charged what the work was worth (not time and materials) and won the job”. 

The part that stood out for me was ‘we heard your voice in our head…’

This has to be the ultimate ambition when you are coaching your team – the person being coached isn’t paralysed with indecision, they are empowered with a confidence and the ability to spot potential issues and create a solution applying some of what they have learned.

As a leader, one of your primary responsibilities is to coach and develop your team members. While it’s important to provide guidance and support, the ultimate ambition should be to empower them with confidence and the ability to spot potential issues and create solutions on their own. This can be achieved through a teaching and learning approach, where your team members not only receive instruction but also actively participate in teaching others. By doing so, they not only gain a deeper understanding of the subject matter but also take on accountability for their own growth and development.

Teaching as a Means of Empowerment

Teaching is not only a one-way process of imparting knowledge; it is also a powerful tool for empowerment. When you teach someone, you are not just transferring information, but also instilling a sense of ownership and responsibility. By encouraging your team members to teach others, you create an environment where everyone is continuously learning and growing. This approach fosters a culture of collaboration and knowledge-sharing, where team members feel empowered to take on new challenges and contribute their unique perspectives.

Accountability and Growth

By actively engaging your team members in teaching, you provide them with a sense of accountability for their own learning and development. When individuals become responsible for teaching others, they are more likely to invest time and effort in understanding the subject matter thoroughly. This accountability drives them to explore different perspectives, research new concepts, and seek innovative solutions. As a result, they become more confident in their abilities and are better equipped to identify and address potential issues that may arise.

Building a Teachable Organisation

To create a culture of continuous learning and growth, it is crucial to build an organisation where everyone is open to learning and teaching. Encouraging your team members to be teachable and prepared to step up as teachers themselves is a powerful way to achieve this. When individuals are willing to share their knowledge and experiences with others, it creates an atmosphere of trust and collaboration. This not only enhances the collective intelligence of the team but also strengthens relationships and fosters a supportive work environment.

Embedding Learning through Teaching

Learning that is deeply embedded is more likely to be retained and applied effectively. When your team members have the opportunity to teach others about what they know, they reinforce their understanding of the subject matter. Teaching requires them to articulate their thoughts clearly, organise their knowledge, and adapt to different learning styles. These activities solidify their own learning and enable them to internalise the information at a deeper level. Teaching also helps to identify gaps in knowledge, prompting individuals to seek further learning and refine their expertise.

Build in teaching

One way to build a teaching organisation is to embed something weekly into your all-hands or similar. I know clients who give a different team member 30 minutes to talk through their project, or a new piece of software they’re using. Having them present to the team builds empathy around what they’re doing, and also brings awareness to what they really know and even where the gaps in their knowledge are. 

It is essential to empower your team members with confidence and the ability to solve problems independently. Teaching and learning go hand in hand in achieving this goal. By encouraging your team members to teach others, you foster a culture of continuous growth and accountability. Building an organisation full of teachable individuals not only strengthens the collective knowledge but also creates a supportive environment where everyone can thrive.


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