I think you’ll agree with this statement; no athlete can reach their full potential without a great coach.
When you think of some of the greatest athletes quite often they’re synonymous with their coach. Michael Jordan had Phil Jackson, Tiger Woods started with Butch Harmon, and Mary Lou Retton worked with Bella Karolyi. None of them would have attained the greatness they did without the guidance and feedback from their coaches.
Why is it in business we think we can reach our full potential without coaching? Great leaders are not just visionaries, they coach. They help their people develop so they can succeed in their role and get ready for the opportunities that may come down the pike. Over the years I’ve heard many reasons and have listed a few of the most common below:
- I’ve never been coached before and I think I’m doing just fine.
- Business is different than athletics.
- I know more about [fill in the blank] than my manager.
I’d like to debunk these myths and hopefully persuade you that business people need coaching every bit as much as athletes if they want to excel.
I’ve never been coached before and I’m doing just fine
Is that all you’re striving for, to do just fine? I’d hope you want to continue to grow, succeed, and enjoy your job more and more with the passage of time. It’s amazing how success breeds happiness. If you’re in sales I think you’ll agree; it’s a much better day when your customers have placed business with you rather than rejecting your offers.
Can you honestly say you have no room for improvement? It’s not just “weaknesses” that can be improved. Sometimes working on strengths will lead to better results than just shoring up a weak area.
Business is different than athletics
Business doesn’t take athleticism but it does take skill and skills can always be improved up. Let’s take a look at how sports and business compare in terms of coaching and preparation.
1. Assess team needs
2. Recruit players to fill needs
3. Practice to build skills
5. Analyze results
6. Practice skills needed to improve performance
1. Assess dept/unit/team needs
2. Hire to fill needs
3. Work on skills
4. Perform – Sell
5. Measure results (profitable sales)
6. Practice where needs arise
I know more than my manager
Quite often this is true…as it should be. For example, the “best” salesperson won’t necessarily make the best manager and by the same token a great manager won’t necessarily be a great salesperson because the skills needed to succeed in each role are different. Michael Jordan was arguably the best basketball player ever but he was only a mediocre coach when he coached the Washington Wizards. On the flip side, Phil Jackson was an average NBA player but might just go down in history as the best NBA coach.
Neither Bella Korolyi nor Butch Harmon could do what Mary Lou Retton or Tiger Woods could do but I think you’d agree, both athletes are better because of their coaches.
A good coach understands the game, has a keen eye for areas of improvement, and the communication skills to get buy-in as well as teach. No matter how seemingly trivial the advice might seem to be, sometimes changing a word or two, or trying a slightly different approach can make a huge difference. When I teach classes on influence and persuasion I emphasize that small changes can lead to big differences. And so it is with coaching feedback.
Your coach will help you prepare so you can be at the top of your game when it’s time to compete. In the words of John Wooden, Hall of Fame Coach of the UCLA Bruins men’s basketball team and arguably the greatest coach of all time in any sport, “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.” My question for you to ponder is this; how can you afford to not have a coach?
– Brian Ahearn, CPCU, CTM, CMCT is a Senior Sales Consultant with the State Auto Insurance Companies in Columbus, OH. He’s one of only two dozen Cialdini Method Certified Trainers in the world. Read more of his perspectives on his blog Influence PEOPLE.