ChatGPT as a Leadership Coach
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    I Tried to Use ChatGPT as My Leadership Coach. Here’s What Happened

    by Sara J. Baker, Ed.D.

    Have you ever wished you could have your very own leadership coach to help you improve your management skills? Well, that’s exactly what I attempted to do by enlisting the help of ChatGPT as a leadership coach. ChatGPT is a large language model trained by OpenAI.

    As a leadership enthusiast and blogger, I am always on the lookout for ways to help managers improve their management skills without breaking the bank or taking up too much time. One of the ways I’ve been exploring is the use of technology to provide cost-effective and timely coaching to managers.

    That’s why I decided to try ChatGPT as a virtual leadership coach.

    By prompting ChatGPT with specific questions, you can simulate a leadership coaching session that’s tailored to your specific needs.

    I am NOT claiming that an AI language bot can replace actual leadership coaches, but I am suggesting that it might make sense to use our available resources in the interest of time and money.

    Should you use ChatGPT?

    When you are in leadership, it never works well to stick your head in the sand because you don’t feel like learning about the latest shiny, new thing. You don’t need to be an expert, but language AI bots are NOT going away – so let’s figure out the best way to use them to help us save time and learn a little.

    ChatGPT as a Leadership Coach

    Keep in mind as you use ChatGPT that the information that it is providing is basically based on the information that is available on the Internet with the added bonus that it is “learning” and improving outputs as it interacts with people in ChatGPT and receives feedback indicating its responses are good or bad. As an AI language model, it doesn’t have the emotional intelligence and creative abilities that humans have.

    So regardless of how you decide to use ChatGPT (or any AI language model), you must keep in mind that you are NOT interacting with a person. You are interacting with an advanced computer program.

    My idea to try ChatGPT as a leadership coach is an exercise to figure out how helpful it can be for certain types of leadership questions. You can’t ask every question to your mentor, and you may not have the time to read article after article looking for ideas. Sometimes you just need a quick idea and a solid direction to get started.

    How do I use ChatGPT?

    I primarily use ChatGPT instead of Google searches when compiling information. If I have a question, then instead of googling it and reading through 10 articles, I’ll ask ChatGPT a question, weigh the logic of its answer, and fact-check anything I’m unsure of. With the right approach and ethical considerations, AI can be a powerful tool for improving leadership skills without breaking the bank or taking up too much time.

    ChatGPT as a Leadership Coach

    Preparing for Your ChatGPT Leadership Coaching Session

    To get started, approach ChatGPT with a clear goal in mind. For example, you may want to learn how to build a strong team culture, foster collaboration, and lead your team through change. Or, you may want to develop your emotional intelligence and communication skills. Once you have a specific goal, prompt ChatGPT with open-ended questions related to your goal.

    For instance, you could ask ChatGPT, “What are some strategies for building a strong team culture?” or “How can I improve my communication skills as a manager?” Based on your prompts, ChatGPT will generate responses that provide insights and strategies you can implement to improve your leadership skills.

    Keep reading, and I’ll show you two different approaches I tried and share some tips on how to prompt ChatGPT effectively to simulate a leadership coaching session tailored to your needs. With these tips, you can use ChatGPT as a virtual coach to help you become a more effective leader.

    Approach #1: The Long Prompt

    First, I decided to make a list of the areas where I knew I wanted information and combine them all into one long prompt.

    Me: Hello ChatGPT, I’m a manager who is looking to improve my leadership skills. I’m often tasked with managing a team through change, and I sometimes struggle with keeping my team motivated and engaged during times of uncertainty. Additionally, I’ve been told that my communication style can be a bit direct and I’m looking for ways to be more empathetic in my approach.

    Can you offer any guidance on how I can improve in these areas? Specifically, I’m interested in learning more about how I can build a strong team culture, foster collaboration, and lead my team through change in a way that promotes engagement and motivation. Additionally, I’d like to work on developing my emotional intelligence and communication skills, so any strategies or resources you can recommend in these areas would be greatly appreciated.

    ChatGPT: Of course! Improving leadership skills can take time, but there are a number of strategies you can use to build a strong team culture, foster collaboration, and lead your team through change in a way that promotes engagement and motivation. Here are some tips:

    Build a strong team culture

    A strong team culture is essential for fostering collaboration and building a sense of community. To create a strong team culture, it’s important to:

    • Define your team’s values: Establish a set of core values that guide your team’s behavior and decision-making. Make sure these values align with your organization’s mission and vision.
    • Lead by example: Model the behavior you want to see from your team. If you want your team to be collaborative, demonstrate that behavior by collaborating with your team members.
    • Celebrate success: Celebrate your team’s successes and recognize individual contributions. This can help build a positive team culture and encourage your team to work together towards common goals.

    Foster collaboration

    Collaboration is essential for achieving team goals and building a strong team culture. To foster collaboration, try:

    • Encouraging open communication: Create an environment where team members feel comfortable sharing their ideas and opinions. Encourage active listening and respect for different viewpoints.
    • Facilitating team building activities: Schedule team building activities that encourage collaboration and problem-solving. This can help team members develop trust and respect for each other.
    • Providing opportunities for cross-functional collaboration: Encourage your team to collaborate with other teams in your organization. This can help break down silos and foster a culture of collaboration across your organization.

    Lead your team through change

    Change can be difficult for any team, but it’s essential for growth and development. To lead your team through change, try:

    • Communicating openly and transparently: Keep your team informed about any changes that are happening and why they’re happening. Encourage questions and be honest about any challenges or uncertainties.
    • Providing support and resources: Offer support and resources to help your team manage any challenges that arise during the change process. This can help reduce stress and build resilience.
    • Celebrating progress: Celebrate your team’s progress and successes during the change process. This can help build momentum and keep your team motivated.

    Develop emotional intelligence and communication skills

    Emotional intelligence and effective communication are essential for building strong relationships with your team members. To develop these skills, try:

    • Practicing active listening: Listen actively to your team members, show empathy and understanding, and clarify any misunderstandings.
    • Being aware of your emotions: Pay attention to your own emotions and how they might be impacting your interactions with your team members.
    • Using “I” statements: Use “I” statements instead of “you” statements when communicating with your team members. This can help you express your thoughts and feelings without being accusatory.
    • Seeking feedback: Ask for feedback from your team members about your communication style and emotional intelligence. This can help you identify areas for improvement.

    –End ChatGPT’s response

    Not too bad, huh? You can see from the output that the information isn’t new, groundbreaking creative insights. Instead, it’s a succinct compilation of the current thought leadership around each topic.

    ChatGPT as a Leadership Coach

    I used to spend so much time reading blogs and articles (seriously, a lot of time) about leadership to learn new ways to think about my leadership and help me continue to improve. ChatGPT would have saved me time to look, read, and summarize. With the nice list above, I have a good place to start, and if I want more information about any particular topic, I can always ask.

    Overall, I think the AI provided solid information that was certainly enough to make a few notes and set goals to work on for the next week or month.

    Approach #2: The Conversation

    Next, I decided to take more of a conversational approach to see how “real” I could get the conversation to feel.

    Me: Hello! My name is Sara and I am a team leader.

    ChatGPT: Hello Sara! It’s great to meet you. How can I assist you today?

    Me: I am struggling with my time management. There is always so much to do and I feel like I don’t spend enough time coaching my time.

    ChatGPT: I see. Time management can be a challenge, especially for busy leaders. Here are a few tips that might help:

    1. Prioritize your tasks: Start each day by identifying the most important tasks you need to complete. Focus on the tasks that have the highest impact on your team and organization.
    2. Use a calendar: Set aside specific blocks of time on your calendar for important tasks, meetings, and coaching sessions. This will help you stay organized and on track.
    3. Delegate tasks: Identify tasks that can be delegated to others on your team. This will free up more time for coaching and other important tasks.
    4. Take breaks: It’s important to take regular breaks throughout the day to recharge your batteries. This can help improve your focus and productivity.
    5. Say no: Learn to say no to tasks that don’t align with your priorities or that you don’t have the bandwidth to complete. This can help you avoid overcommitting yourself and feeling overwhelmed.

    Remember, time management is a skill that takes practice. It’s important to be patient with yourself and continue to try new strategies until you find what works best for you.

    Me: Those are great ideas. Tell me more about how I can delegate tasks to free up more time for coaching. I have 5 people on my team and everyone has a full plate.

    ChatGPT: Delegating tasks effectively can be a great way to free up more time for coaching. Here are some tips for delegating tasks:

    1. Identify tasks that can be delegated: Start by identifying tasks that can be delegated to others on your team. Look for tasks that are time-consuming or that don’t require your specific expertise.
    2. Choose the right person for the task: Consider the skills, experience, and workload of each team member when deciding who to delegate tasks to. You want to choose someone who has the necessary skills and experience to complete the task successfully.
    3. Provide clear instructions: When delegating a task, make sure to provide clear instructions on what needs to be done, the deadline for completion, and any other important details. This will help ensure that the task is completed correctly and on time.
    4. Check in regularly: It’s important to check in with the person you’ve delegated the task to on a regular basis to make sure they’re making progress and to offer any support they may need.
    5. Provide feedback: Once the task is complete, provide feedback on how well it was done. This will help the person improve their skills and build confidence in their abilities.

    Remember, delegation is not about getting rid of tasks you don’t want to do, but about empowering your team to take on new challenges and grow their skills. With effective delegation, you can free up more time for coaching and focus on the tasks that have the most impact on your team and organization.

    ChatGPT as a Leadership Coach

    Me: How does coaching fit in to delegation? I need some ideas for how to be a better coach.

    ChatGPT: Coaching can be a powerful tool to help your team members grow and develop their skills. Here are some ideas for how to be a better coach:

    1. Set clear expectations: When delegating tasks to your team members, make sure to set clear expectations for what you want them to accomplish. This will help them understand what success looks like and what they need to do to achieve it.
    2. Provide feedback: Offer feedback on a regular basis to help your team members improve their skills. Focus on both what they did well and what they can improve on in the future.
    3. Encourage self-reflection: Encourage your team members to reflect on their own performance and identify areas where they can improve. This can help them take ownership of their own development and become more self-directed learners.
    4. Offer support: Offer your team members the support they need to achieve their goals. This could include training, resources, or guidance from more experienced team members.
    5. Create a safe environment: Create a safe environment where your team members feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas. This will help build trust and create a culture of open communication.
    6. Celebrate successes: Finally, make sure to celebrate successes along the way. This can help build confidence and motivation, and encourage your team members to continue to strive for excellence.

    Remember, coaching is a process that takes time and effort. By investing in your team members and helping them develop their skills, you can create a more engaged and high-performing team.

    Me: I feel like I do those things but I’ve got this one team member that seems to always be mad when I try to talk to her.

    ChatGPT: If you have a team member who seems resistant to coaching or feedback, it’s important to take a step back and try to understand their perspective. Here are some tips that may help:

    1. Schedule a one-on-one meeting: Try scheduling a private meeting with your team member to discuss their behavior and find out what’s going on. Be clear that your goal is to understand their perspective and find ways to support them.
    2. Listen actively: During the meeting, make sure to listen actively to what your team member has to say. Ask open-ended questions to encourage them to share their thoughts and feelings.
    3. Validate their feelings: Let your team member know that you understand their perspective and that their feelings are valid. This can help build trust and create a more positive environment.
    4. Identify solutions together: Work with your team member to identify potential solutions to the issues they’re facing. This can help them feel more invested in the process and more motivated to make positive changes.
    5. Follow up regularly: Once you’ve identified solutions, make sure to follow up with your team member on a regular basis to see how they’re doing and offer support as needed.

    Remember, coaching is a two-way street. It’s important to build a relationship of trust and respect with your team members in order to be an effective coach. If you’re having trouble connecting with a particular team member, take the time to listen to their perspective and work with them to find solutions that work for everyone.

    Me: You said, “Ask open-ended questions to encourage them to share their thoughts and feelings.” What are examples of questions I can ask to encourage them to open up?

    ChatGPT: Here are some examples of open-ended questions that you can ask to encourage your team member to share their thoughts and feelings:

    1. Can you tell me more about how you’re feeling about [specific situation]?
    2. What do you think is causing this issue to come up?
    3. How do you think we can work together to improve the situation?
    4. What would you like to see happen differently in the future?
    5. What are some ideas you have for addressing this challenge?
    6. Can you walk me through your thought process when you’re approaching [specific task]?
    7. What would you like to achieve with this project/task?
    8. How do you see your role fitting into the larger goals of our team/organization?

    These types of questions encourage your team member to share their thoughts and feelings in a more open and honest way. They also allow for more dialogue and collaboration between you and your team member, which can help build trust and create a more positive working environment.

    ChatGPT as a Leadership Coach

    Me: What should I do if she cries or yells at me when I try to talk to her?

    ChatGPT: If your team member becomes emotional or upset during a coaching conversation, it’s important to remain calm and professional. Here are some tips for how to handle this situation:

    1. Be empathetic: Let your team member know that you understand their feelings and that you’re there to support them. Avoid being dismissive or invalidating their emotions.
    2. Pause and take a break: If your team member is really upset, it may be helpful to pause the conversation and take a break. This can give your team member time to collect their thoughts and emotions, and may help de-escalate the situation.
    3. Stay focused on the issue at hand: If your team member is yelling or crying, it can be tempting to get defensive or emotional yourself. However, it’s important to stay focused on the issue at hand and avoid getting sidetracked by the emotional outburst.
    4. Offer support: Once your team member has calmed down, offer your support and ask how you can help. This could involve working together to find a solution to the issue, or simply offering a listening ear.
    5. Follow up: Make sure to follow up with your team member after the conversation to see how they’re doing and offer any additional support or resources they may need.

    Remember, it’s important to create a safe and supportive environment for your team members. If a coaching conversation becomes too emotional or difficult to handle, it may be helpful to seek support from a supervisor or HR representative.

    –End ChatGPT’s response

    I don’t know about you, but this ten-minute conversation with ChatGPT would have saved me time and heartache when I was searching for answers as a developing leader. My favorite part is the ability to keep asking questions, even changing directions, and it adapts and finds helpful information. I also love that it provides lists, so many lists 🙂

    The most impressive thing about ChatGPT was its ability to have a two-way conversation. I asked it follow-up questions and it gave me clear, helpful answers – just like an experienced coach would do.

    What was missing was the human empathy that occurs during a coaching session. AI has many time-saving benefits, but it can’t replace the power of human connection. So if you what you need most out of a leadership coach is the human connection, then ChatGPT won’t be enough. It might still be a good tool to help you prep for your sessions with a human coach so you can then focus your coaching sessions around highly detailed specific feedback that only your coach can provide.

    How Good is ChatGPT as a Leadership Coach?

    Overall, my experience with ChatGPT was quite positive. It is not designed as a full replacement for human coaches (and I’m not suggesting that it should be) but rather as an additional tool to help us save time and money while still learning useful leadership principles.

    The responses it provided were surprisingly helpful and I can definitely see the value in using this cost-effective (currently free) tool to help you save time in improving your leadership experience.

    I hope you find it to be helpful, whether as a leadership coach or as a tool to save time in drafting meeting agendas or even summarizing reports. Leadership is challenging and you are busy. Find ways to make your life easier.

    Happy leading!

    Dr. Sara Baker, Founder of the Leadership Reformation

    About the Author

    Dr. Sara Baker is an advocate for positive leadership and healthy workplaces. With over 20 years of experience leading private and public organizations, she understands the challenges that employees and leaders face every day.

    Sara is the author of Toxic Workplace Survival Guide, an essential resource for anyone who wants to thrive in spite of a toxic work environment. In addition to her writing, Sara provides online courses for leadership development and coping with a toxic workplace.

    Dr. Sara Baker, Founder of the Leadership Reformation

    About the Author

    Dr. Sara Baker is an advocate for positive leadership and healthy workplaces. With over 20 years of experience leading private and public organizations, she understands the challenges that employees and leaders face every day.

    Sara is the author of Toxic Workplace Survival Guide, an essential resource for anyone who wants to thrive in spite of a toxic work environment. In addition to her writing, Sara provides online courses for leadership development and coping with a toxic workplace.

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