On Wednesday 24th November we welcomed hundreds of eventprofs online on Arena and in-person to Central Hall Westminster for this year's EventLAB, which was hybrid for the first time.

The day provided plenty of food for thought, including this CPD-certified workshop led by Mike Kershaw, Partner at events advisory firm Kershaw Partners. Mike talked the audience through practical solutions for leading effectively from the front, particularly in difficult times such as these, and then led an interactive audience participation section in which the audience were asked to brainstorm and discuss questions with each other regarding leadership styles. Read on for Mike's expert advice.

Key Takeaways

'Leader as coach' concept

Leadership styles have had to evolve and cater to a new generation of workers. Teams are now much more focused on collaboration and prefer the idea of a leader engaging with their team, as opposed to simply telling their team what to do. As Mike explained, one concept that encompasses this style is the 'leader as coach' concept. This essentially means being prepared to bring out the best in your team by investing time in their personal growth and career development, as opposed to adopting a more dictatorial approach that we see so often.

According to a recent Forbes survey, organisations whose leaders held productive coaching conversations reported a massive increase in intrinsic motivation within the team. In fact, 32% of the organisations who were using this 'leader as coach' concept reported employees were more committed to their work, and 46% reported that employees were more satisfied with their jobs.

So how do we get better at 'leader as coach'?

Whilst 'leader as coach' is a fairly straight-forward concept, it can be difficult for leaders to navigate this while keeping an element of authority in their role. Read on below for Mike's top tips on how organisations and individuals can improve at the 'leader as coach' leadership style.

Become aware of how you use your energy

There are two types of energy when it comes to leadership. Push energy is concerned with giving advice, providing direction, stating your expectations, and making suggestions to your team. There's nothing necessarily wrong with this style of leadership, but a more up-to-date and productive form of energy is pull energy. This is where you engage with your team, ask questions, listen to the team without judgement, encourage others to speak, and be open and personable.

Tame the 'advice monster'

Leaders need to be aware of how much push and how much pull they use during conversations with their teams. For example, it's important to avoid taking complete control and overpowering every situation in order to provide all the answers to a problem.

This more controlling style of leadership is known as the 'advice monster' concept, and can easily disempower a team by giving the impression that they're not doing well, and that the leader is the only one with the answers. Leaders must tame the advice monster by asking more questions and allowing others to brainstorm solutions before jumping in.

Choose your mindset

Focus on the person who has the issue, and not the issue itself. The tendency is to think 'I know the answer so I'm going to solve it for you', but that mindset isn't conducive to growth. Instead, focus on the individual, and help them to deal with the problem themselves.

Leaders must be able to coach and nurture the individuals on their teams to be independent of them. This results in a much more empowered team, and a more successful business long-term. One way to do this is to adopt the GROW model below.

Adopt the GROW model

One of the best ways to get better at coaching a team is to try using the GROW model. GROW lists four steps for leaders to follow, which don't necessarily come naturally, so leaders need to work hard at training themselves to think in new ways about their role and values. The four steps are:

  • Goal. Establish exactly what individual team members want to accomplish. Not in their jobs or roles, but right now in solving the problem in front of them.
  • Reality. Once they've established goals, the leader must ask open questions (without judgement) so that individuals are forced to think for themselves and can start to create their own solutions. An example of a question to ask could be 'What are the key things we need to consider in order to solve this issue?' The leader's role in this scenario is not to offer solutions, but to raise the right questions and then let the coachee engage with the problem themselves.
  • Options. Show them that there are always options to any problem. Help them to deepen their thinking and think more broadly about potential solutions.
  • Will. Once these steps are complete, ask the individual "What will you do?" to encourage them to review the action plan that has been discussed. If they are unclear, the GROW model needs to be repeated until a solution is worked out.

This model can be extremely efficient in helping a team think more deeply and grow within their roles, as well as bringing fresh perspectives and understanding for the leader.

What does a well-led organisation look like?

Mike defines a well-led organisation as one with a dynamic leader who leads by example, who communicates extremely well where the business is going, and who communicates exactly where each team member fits in to the overall journey of the business.

If you'd like to talk to Mike about improving your organisation or leadership style, you can get in touch with him at Kershaw Partners.

About The Speaker

Mike Kershaw, Partner, Kershaw Partners

Mike is former Chairman of leading integrated events company The Concerto Group & former President of the UK Chapter of ILEA. A very experienced event professional & venue marketeer, he led Concerto through several acquisitions & the development of numerous venues across London. Having recruited a new CEO in 2013 he stepped down in 2015 and has set up Kershaw Partners to bring his extensive experience to bear on emerging event companies and venues. Mike has expert knowledge of the leisure and events world & a superb network. He is a skilled negotiator, collaborator, innovator, leader, communicator, sales driver & motivator.

mike kershaw

We hope you found Mike's talk useful. Make sure to check out the rest of the EventLAB 2021 session writeups and read our recap of the whole day.