A key role of leaders is often growing other leaders. But catalyzing learning in others that is in service to their emerging wants and needs is no small feat.

The unconscious needs and biases of the manager are constantly (and understandably) clashing into the picture.

To help orient your coaching style towards the needs of individuals on your team, I suggest exploring the work of Doug Silsbee and the other smart folks at Presence-Based Coaching.

In his book, The Mindful Coach: Seven Roles for Facilitating Leader Development, Doug outlines seven voices leaders can use in helping grow other leaders.

By engaging with and balancing all seven voices, a coach can stay in service and in partnership with the coachee.

Here is a quick summary of each voice. But the book is a must-read for those looking to deepen their commitment to this practice.

  • The Partner builds a win-win structure. This voices involves the coachee in decisions and supports the coachee in taking increasing responsibility for their own learning.
  • The Investigator asks artful questions to support a coach’s deeper understanding of themselves, their commitment and their situation.
  • The Reflector clarifies and sharpens the coachee’s answers to the investigator’s questions.
  • The Teacher gives useful information, language and knowledge that the coachee is not able to readily access yet.
  • The Guide provides direction and encourages the coachee to take action.
  • The Contractor provides accountability.
  • The Master is the meta voice: The self-aware voice that knows when to utilize all the various voices above.

Doug writes, “Each Voice has its own tone and way of expressing itself — in a sense, its own musical timbre and tuning.”

He also warns that certain voices will feel more comfortable for each coach and thus, overused. As you think about these voices, ask yourself which voice or voices you tend to gravitate towards and which you tend to avoid?

META NOTE: This post primarily engages the teacher voice (a voice I tend to overuse) and ends with an investigator prompt (another voice I use frequently). Hmmm… food for thought. Thanks, Doug!