Take a minute and think about a person in your life who brought out the best in you.  This person may have helped you accomplish great things.  Maybe they even inspired you to accomplish something you never thought possible.

Now consider the traits of this individual.  How would you describe this person?  Your list probably contains one or more of the following:

  • Really listened to me
  • Cared about me
  • Took a chance on me
  • Believed in me
  • Stretched me

You probably did not describe this person with the following:

  • They were great at giving advice
  • They told great war stories

Do you consider yourself to be a coach or a boss?

While a boss strives for compliance to his or her way of doing things, a coach inspires peak performance.  Gregg Thompson, author of The Master Coach, uses the following question to uncover the truth:

“If coaching were illegal, would there be enough evidence to convict you?”

I recently spent a day with Gregg, and I came away with the following questions to help me create more evidence that I am becoming more like a coach and less like a boss who provides advice and tells war stories.

  • Do others leave the conversations with me better in some way?  Do the people most important to me leave an interaction feeling inspired because they know I believe, care, value, and trust them?  Did I help them discover a new strength, validate a known strength, or find a new perspective that will enable them to be more effective?
  • Do I suspend judgement and remain curious? Our experiences, values, and unconscious biases are our biggest challenges when working with others.  It is important to realize that the person I am interacting with is not me.  They have different strengths, different values, and different personality traits.
  • Do I remove complexity and create clarity? It is a chaotic world.  A big mistake is assuming those I coach are clear on objectives and priorities.  Asking questions, really listening, and clarifying misinformation is more effective than directing, offering advice, or sharing war stories.
  • Was I totally present? Did I turn off and turn away from distractions?  Do I clear my mind and trust that the right questions and the right comments will come to me when I need them.  It is difficult to listen when considering the question you would like to ask next.

The late Steve Jobs said, “Management is about getting people to do things they do not want to do.  Leadership is about inspiring them to do things they never thought possible.”

I know I will have a much better chance of inspiring others when I give less advice and do more coaching.  I will become a better coach by listening, believing, caring and stretching.

What about you?  Will these questions help you become a better coach to your team?  Take them and make them your own – give some thought to how you can change the way your team describes you.  Find out more about how to grow your leadership and create a culture of leadership.


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