Develop trust with team members. We cannot expect people to open or vulnerable if there’s not rapport or trust. This doesn’t happen overnight, but requires truly “seeing” every person in their wholeness who work with us.

The number one leadership initiative in any organization today is improved coaching. Coaching empowers employees, empowerment drives engagement, and engagement drives performance. At its core, coaching is about transformation. Leading distributed teams requires transforming how we coach and changing our play calls and playbooks to get things done. As a part of our interview series called “Moving From Command & Control to Coaching & Collaboration; How Leaders and Managers Can Become Better Coaches,” we had the pleasure to interview Marché Pleshette.

Marché Pleshette is a Senior Delivery Consultant for FranklinCovey. As a keynote speaker and facilitator, her work focuses on effective communication, leadership, professional change and transitions, employee engagement and retention, and the organizational value of human capital. She is co-author of Change: How to Turn Uncertainty Into Opportunity.

Thank you for joining us to explore a critical inflection point in how we define leadership. Our readers would like to get to know you better. What was a defining moment that shaped who you are as a leader?

I have held leadership roles as Director of Public Relations and Manager of Employee Retention earlier in my career. I learned in my previous roles that leadership is not solely about meeting goals and impacting revenue, but it’s largely about inspiring and engaging people to collaborate with you in executing initiatives. Ironically, some of my most defining moments have been experienced in my current role as Sr. Delivery Consultant at FranklinCovey. I have had the opportunity to stand before senior and mid-level leaders to assist them in developing and refining how they lead others. At some point in my career, I realized how much my impartation of leadership principles, insights and skills exponentially make a difference in the cultures and outcomes of so many organizations. And, more importantly, in the lives of their people.

John C. Maxwell is credited with saying, “A leader is someone who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” How do you embody that quote as a leader?

I believe people are far more perceptive than we may think. If I don’t practice what I preach, people will know it. Being known as credible, authentic, and knowledgeable requires me to talk about what I know and be committed to personal growth myself, in order to illuminate if for others. Exceptional leaders are those who strive to ‘walk their talk.’

How do you define the differences between a leader as a manager and a leader as a coach?

I believe a leader as a manager ensures that goals are executed through others by utilizing effective skills that inspire and engage those on their team, as well as logistical strategies to make things happen. The leader as coach ensures their team members are able to see the greatness in themselves. They empower team members by tapping into their potential and they help to create confident contributors. As a result, they also create leadership qualities in their team members. A leader as coach is not only genuinely concerned with their contribution to outcomes, but to individuals’ growth.

We started our conversation by noting that improved coaching is the number one leadership initiative in any organization today. What are some essential skills and competencies that leaders must have now to be better coaches?

Essential skills and competencies that every leader must have to be a better coach include excellent listening skills, curiosity, and the ability to ask good questions, as well as empathy, valuing diverse people and diversity of thought, and an understanding of how to navigate change in today’s world.

We’re all familiar with the adage, “You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.” How are you inspiring — rather than mandating — leaders to invest in upskilling and reskilling?

You do catch more flies with honey! One of my innate character qualities for which I am so grateful is that I am able to inspire others — leaders! And the ability to inspire is one of the most important skills in today’s world. Leaders are busier and accountable for far more than they’ve ever been before. It is easy for them to rely on what they have historically experienced from their own leaders as models of leadership. Sometimes they’ve had great models, but often times their leaders were “winging it” with inefficient practices that did not inspire but that were demeaning.

Either way, the world is changing, organizations and industries are changing, and how we do business is changing. It’s imperative that we recognize leadership must change as well. In all of our reliance on technology, people are still our greatest asset, and our ability to communicate with and care about, and inspire people is a vital competency that impacts everything — including the bottom line. That means reskilling how we get things done through people is the priority. I constantly convey and send the message to leaders that caring for the people who work with us has a much greater influence than “bossing” people around. Now, leaders have to ‘unlearn and let go’ of the wrong skills and make developing the right leadership skills a priority. The leaders we work with in client organizations understand that and we’re seeing greater consistency and commitment to leadership development.

Let’s get more specific. How do you coach someone to do their best work? How can leaders coach for peak performance in our current context? What are your “Top 5 Ways That Leaders and Managers Can Be Effective Coaches?”

1 — Develop trust with team members. We cannot expect people to open or vulnerable if there’s not rapport or trust. This doesn’t happen overnight, but requires truly “seeing” every person in their wholeness who work with us.

2 — Be empathetic. Remember leaders weren’t always leaders. Empathy requires a bit of humility. If we don’t care and we don’t have a willingness to understand what our people might be feeling or experiencing, we will never take the time to coach them. Empathy causes us to slow down enough to relate.

3 — Know their strengths. This requires getting to know our team members, not just observing them. We can learn a lot in effective 1-on-1s. We learn what drives our team members and even the areas that are important to them to be coached. It’s worth noting that while feedback is excellent, sometimes coaching is a better alternative when we understand their strengths and opportunities to grow.

4 — Value diversity of thought and diverse people. Even leaders have unconscious biases where it is easy to pay more attention to high performers or to team members who think like us or remind us of ourselves. It’s important to understand how our unconscious biases work and mitigate them. When they are at play, we are less likely to coach some of our team members who would benefit most.

5 — Understand that change is process. There is a predictable pattern of change and reactions to change that when understood, helps us navigate our team with great support. Change is such a fitting entry to a coaching conversation, and the ability to navigate team members through change is a distinguished leadership competency. My co-authors and I discuss this in detail in FranklinCovey’s new book, Change: How to Turn Uncertainly into Opportunity, which launches April 18, 2023.

We’re leading and coaching in increasingly diverse organizations. And one aspect of workforce diversity on the rise is generational diversity. What advice would you offer about how to effectively coach a multi-generational workforce? And how do you activate the collective potential of a multi-generational workforce?

There are 4–5 generations in the workforce today, which most organizations are experiencing. This means that as leaders we must be flexible in seeing the uniqueness and norms of each generation. We must check our own biases as leaders so that we can avail ourselves to the needs of each contributor — from whatever generation of which they are a part. Coaching requires us to remain separate from outcomes that we might desire, so coaching people in various generations certainly requires self-management.

The fact that we have multi-generations working together is an ultimate gift of synergy to a team or organization. It provides us with the opportunity to leverage a variety of ideas and synergize in the best way. It is to our advantage to help everyone see that as a benefit.

You’re referring to emotional intelligence, in a sense. What are two steps every leader can take to demonstrate a higher level of emotional intelligence?

  • Commit to self-awareness and mindfulness with regards to the impact we have on and with people.
  • See people who work with you as holistic human beings with lives, feelings, and families — not just workers, and then interact with them as such.

Words matter. And we’re collectively creating a new leadership language right now. What are the most important words for leaders to use now?

Important words that inspire and lift others include: Possible, Inspired, We (not I), Let’s, Change Capability, Trust, Culture, Belonging, Impact, Engage, Contribution and Outcome.

I keep inspiring quotes on my desk. What’s your favorite “Life Lesson Quote,” and why does it mean so much to you?

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Maya Angelou

If there were a mantra that I could leave everyone with it would be this quote. It aligns with my personal mission statement, which is “To be a presence and a conversation that encourages all with whom I encounter of the amazing possibilities that await them.” Whether it is what we say or how we simply show up, we are impacting people positively or negatively. I’d like my impact to be for good because people remember. No position or any amount of success should ever impede our respect for the human spirit.

Our readers often like to continue the conversation. What’s the best way for readers to connect with you and to stay current on what you’re discovering?

Thank you for giving us the opportunity to experience a leadership master at work. We wish you continued success and good health!