You’ve heard the expression “monkey on my back.” The idiom refers to an annoying problem that stays with you, continues to nag you, one that you just can’t seem to get rid of. In a word, unlike a barrel of monkeys, it’s not fun.
Your job as Leader-as-Coach is to guide your employees through solving their problems, not to solve their problems for them.
Don’t let their monkeys to take your eye off the coaching ball, distract you, or get involved in the doing of tasks. Doing so will only reduce your effectiveness as a coaching leader.
Start asking coaching questions that will help your team keep their problems and ideas where they belong—with the person who owns the problem. Teach them to care about solving their problems. Motivate them to learn how to solve them.
Continue asking until they take ownership. Use questions like these:
“Tell me more about the problem. What’s behind it?”
“Whose problem is this? Who suffers because of it?”
“Who else is affected by this problem? How could you involve them?”
“Do we know what the problem is costing us?”
“What will solving it save? What is the value added?”
“How does this fit with our plans?”
“Are you willing to take this on?”
“What can I do to help you move it along?”
For more about the monkeys in your business, download and read Management Time: Who’s Got the Monkey by William Oncken Jr. and Donald L. Wass with a commentary by Stephen R. Covey titled “Making Time for Gorillas.”
When you’re ready to work with other leaders and practice getting monkeys off your back, register here for the next CoachQuest Leader-as-Coach Workshop. You’ll be amazed to realize the full potential that our real-world leadership skills bring to your improved management style.