A critical part of effective leadership and success means the understanding of including all stakeholders and total collaboration in your leadership model.
Ask a bunch of top executives who they believe is the best coach in the world, and they will likely reel off the names of ‘the usual suspects’ – you know, the ones that pay millions a year to their SEO-agency in order to occupy that cherished top spot on any of the most common coach-related web-searches.
…And, they’d all be wrong.
The very best coach that you (or anyone else, for that matter) ever knew was your mom – or whichever family member spent the most time bringing you up when you were a tiny tot: the one who was with you when you learned to walk, talk, read, and write. Heck, it took an age to get you to tie a shoelace, brush your teeth, ride a bike, and master the use of a fork, and you’re a real smarty-pants, right? Let’s not forget, forks can be tricky, of course.
Here’s the thing, the reason that your mom was the best coach you ever knew is because of her willingness to see you grow and develop and thrive. It was more important to her to see you do well than her own level of discomfort in getting you there: she cared more about your progress than the limits of her own patience and well-being, and that’s the mark of any great coach. If you are not prepared to invest heavily in the growth and development of your team, you’re not being a good coach (parent).
Since all leaders and managers were children once (some still are: am I right?) they all have great coach skills and competencies stamped on their DNA. What’s more, they have all had a series of wonderful coaching sessions with their primary caregiver when they were wee tots. Why then, when they enter the world of work, do they forget how great a coach they were destined to be, and resort to trying to ‘manage’ everything to do with the performance of their team instead of coaching their team to higher levels of performance?
Some (few) things need ‘managing’ of course: sure, behaviors need managing, but most ‘blockages’ at work don’t need managing, they need coaching. Why? Because the real issues, the tricky ones, are invariably, at their root, ‘conceptual’, not ‘technical’. Management is the solution for technical issues alone, it does not solve conceptual issues: only coaching can do that.
All good managers (coaches) like you need someone to coach, of course. How then do you find a subject to coach, and a topic worthy of your newly found burgeoning coaching prowess? Well, they could simply ask their direct reports a fairly self-contained and up-front question such as, “So, Bill, tell me what’s bothering you these days, and how can I help coach you to better levels of skill and competency?” …if they want to lose all respect of their staff and colleagues, that is.
The single best way to identify a coaching need is to observe the individual in real life work situations. You know, exactly like the coach of your local football, soccer, hockey, and basketball team.
The soccer coach doesn’t discover how their players are developing and progressing by reading the sports pages the day after the big game: they were at the big game with them, on the sidelines, observing and taking notes.
The basketball coach doesn’t ask the player how training went this week, and where they might have spotted areas for their own self-improvement. Why? Because the coach was right there at the training session with them, and the coach spotted the need first-hand.
The hockey coach doesn’t ask the players who they want to bench, play, and trade. Since they are tracking all of these things on a daily basis, the coach sees these things for themselves over time.
The baseball coach doesn’t allow the team to define their own playbook for the big game on Saturday, do their own pre-game-pep-talk, half time course-correct…well, you’re getting the picture, I hope.
So, what’s the big message? The big message is this: get out in the field with your players – as often as you can. Watch them. Take good notes. Help them create pre-call plans, and post-call reviews. Identify coaching needs and then coach them – regularly: it’s the only way to make C-players into B-players; and B-players into A-players.
Word to the wise: when you’re out in the field with your team (in person, or virtually), when they are struggling with a particular matter, be sure not to step in and try to rescue them – it only creates a much bigger problem: learned helplessness. Sometimes, as parents, the best way to coach a child how not to fall off a bike, is to let them fall. This way they quickly learn self-sufficiency and real bike-riding skill. You never see Pep Guardiola (the head coach of Manchester City, my favorite soccer team), run on the pitch in the middle of the game to take the free-kick for the players, do you? No, of course not. …and if Pep doesn’t do it, neither should you.
Leaders, managers and coaches, spend as much time as possible in the field with your team. Remember the leaders’ mantra: nurture, nurture, nurture, and coach, coach, coach.
Antonio Garrido is a charismatic and experienced trainer, speaker, and consultant. He runs a Sandler Training Center in Miami, FL. The author of THE 21ST CENTURY RIDE-ALONG: How Sales Leaders Can Develop Their Teams In Real-Time Sales Calls (CLICK HERE to get your copy), Garrido works with highly-motivated entrepreneurs, business leaders, and companies who are ready to work smarter and commit their time, money, and energy to attract new clients, sell more, and generate more profits.
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