Four Ways to Become a Great Workplace CoachAre you currently grooming someone on your team for a leadership position? Or is there a person you see who has leadership potential but you’re not sure how to go about offering her the support she needs to move ahead?

There’s an art to becoming a great workplace coach, says Yael Bacharach, co-founder and director of training at the Bacharach Leadership Group. “As a coach you have to set the right tone for your protégé,” Bacharach writes in this article for Inc. “How do your actions and intentions come across to your protégé? How do you project yourself toward your protégé? And how does your protégé project back to you?”

The challenge, Bacharach says, is to “achieve consistency among these perceptions.” She offers the following rules to balance your coaching approach.

Four Ways to Become a Great Workplace Coach

Encourage, But Don’t Go Too Far

You want to provide your protégé “with a sense of momentum and a feeling of confidence.” A slap on the back, a good word at the right time - this “you can do it” spirit can help him through a difficult time, when he knows you’ll be there “with the right note of support and encouragement.”

But cheering must also be appropriate. Celebrate your protégé’s achievements, but don’t let the cheering become too aggressive or it may seem “as if you’re trying to get someone to go further than his or her capacity will allow.”

Be Supportive, But Don’t Push

You want to support the efforts of your protégé and offer guidance so he can avoid what Bacharach calls “organizational pitfalls.” But while you assist him in navigating the terrain, you must avoid becoming a “micro-political consigliere” who becomes “overly involved with a protégé’s tactics and strategies.”

Be Empathetic, But Keep Boundaries

It’s important to help a protégé “think about and analyze their interpersonal skills in the context of the situations and the people they are dealing with.” In the event she starts alienating others within the organization, you should be there to “suggest ideas to handle the various office personalities.”

However, understanding how your protégé looks at the world shouldn’t lead to a blurring of professional boundaries. “Letting your empathy overwhelm your boundaries will kill your objectivity and weaken you as a coach.”

Be Authoritative, Not Authoritarian

As a workplace coach, you’re also an educator, Bacharach says. “Your objective is to share your expertise and experience,” so your protégé is better equipped to “meet his or her personal goals.”

And while inevitably you will speak with authority, take care not to become authoritarian. Feel free to share your ideas and convictions, but you “must not dictate and insist upon them."

A workplace coach never wants to dominate the protégé. Instead, work “toward being accessible and ready to listen and assist when called upon.”

What techniques do you practice as a workplace coach?

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