Leading Through Coaching

coach leader

Even when you have the best people and you have trained them, you will still need to lead them through coaching. You will need to coach some of them when they miss the mark, you will need to coach some to the next level, and you will need to delegate to them from time to time.

This article will help you coach with better results, while having more fun and less stress, so your team can get the right things done at the right time.

A leader is a coach.

Several years ago, I was with leadership expert John Maxwell on a trip that included time at Microsoft. At the time, the chief operating officer (COO) was a man named Kevin Turner. Turner started his career as a cashier at Walmart and moved up the ladder to the executive team, working directly with Sam Walton. Now he was working closely with Bill Gates.

The title of Turner’s presentation to our group was A Leader Is a Coach. He explained that the word “coach” originates from the word “carriage.” A coach gets someone from where they are to where they want to be—like a stagecoach in the Old West.

Turner shared with us the following points.

A coach takes you from where you are to where you need to be.

A good coach helps team members understand where they are and where they are going. You will have people who are not hitting the mark that you will need to coach back to performance. And you will want to coach the high performers to the next level. You want to coach them to where they want to be.

In order to do this successfully, you must first have a way of measuring performance. How do you know if a team member’s goal is being met? Do you have policies and procedures? Are there job descriptions? You need to be able to describe success. Success is not “just do what I tell you to do.” That is the dumbest thing I think I’ve ever heard. And just as dumb is “and don’t ask me why.” The why, or the purpose, is the most important thing a team member can know. Employees want to know where their company is going and why. And they need to know where they themselves are going and why.

A coach inspires you to reach your peak potential.

Pastor Chuck Swindoll said that if he could boil leadership down to one word, it would be “influence.” He said that if he could add just one more word to the equation, it would be “inspiration.” So, how do you influence someone? How do you inspire them? Don’t worry; you don’t need to become a motivational speaker to do either. You influence others by adding value to them.

My mentor, the late great Zig Ziglar—a famous motivational speaker—said, “You can have everything
in life you want, if you just help enough other people get what they want.” Although I have studied and taught thousands of hours of Zig’s content as the director of training at Ziglar, I never heard him call that a leadership quote. But if there is a leadership quote, that’s the one. What do people want? What do your team members want?

We all want the same nine things out of life: We all want to be happy, healthy, at least reasonably prosperous; have friends, have peace of mind, have good family relationships; feel secure and have hope for the future. The last desire is quite amazing: People want to love and to be loved.

You can’t make people happy, but you can make them unhappy very easily. Turn off the heat in the wintertime or the air conditioning during a hot August summer. Author and inspirational speaker Simon Sinek has said that a leader’s responsibility is to create the right environment. People will love to come to work when you create a positive working environment. They want to be around other happy people. You can set up a workplace that’s healthy and prosperous physically, as well as mentally and emotionally.

You can create an environment where people feel secure, have time with their family and friends, feel loved, and have the opportunity to love others. I know that is probably not what you expected to hear in an article about coaching a team member to success, but leading with love is the ultimate weapon.

Tom Ziglar, Zig Ziglar’s son, recently authored a book about the disruption that virtual reality (VR), artificial intelligence (AI), and other technologies are bringing upon us. He shared that the solution for a leader is adopting 10 virtues. Each of the virtues are expressions of love. Do you love others? Do you love your team?

Once upon a time, I was not a particularly good leader. I was angry all the time. I was frustrated because I couldn’t get my employees to do what they needed to do, and they were frustrated too. Many of them were Hispanic, and they had a secret nickname for me—El Diablo, or in English, the Devil. They called me that because they felt that I didn’t really care about them. They believed that all I cared about was getting the work done.

That wasn’t true, but because I wasn’t a coach leader that demonstrated my care for them, they responded as if it were. So, how did I go from my team hating me to them loving me? I began to demonstrate that I loved them. You have probably heard the old saying: “Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.” Zig Ziglar added two words to that statement: “Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care about them.” So how do you inspire people? Show them you care about them.

A coach holds you accountable.

A coach leader doesn’t allow complacency or mediocrity. Too often, a business owner or manager lets someone slide on things like being late or poor conduct because that person is amazing with technical ability.

Over the almost 40 years that I’ve been leading others, I’ve discovered that you can’t really hold people accountable unless they want to be accountable. It goes back to the hiring process. If you hire the wrong person, it doesn’t matter what else you do. They won’t be accountable to you or to themselves.

My definition of accountability is helping people become the person they want to be. The key word is “want.” When you hire the right people and create the right environment by supporting them and encouraging them, you can enter into the rare air of true accountability.

A coach ensures you have received training.

I did an article in this series called How to Train a Dream Team Member. Please read that if you haven’t already. You can find it on Cleanfax.com.

A coach makes sure you are in the right position.

Any business has at least 15 major functions. There are five areas of business: leadership, marketing, sales, operations, and administration. There are then three roles under each area: directing, managing, and implementing. It doesn’t mean you have to have 15 people; it just means there are 15 functions that have to happen in any business. Someone has to lead. Someone has to market. Someone has to sell. Someone has to serve clients. Someone has to do the books.

It’s understandable that a bookkeeper needs different skills than someone in marketing or sales. A good coach gets the right person in the right position. You’ve probably heard author Jim Collins’ idea of getting the right people on the bus first. Then you get them in the right seat. Let’s think about the game of football as an example. What characteristics define a great quarterback? A lineman? A wide receiver? Each position requires its own strengths and skills.

A coach exercises authority while remaining responsible.

If there is one single issue that keeps business owners from building a phenomenal dream team, it’s EGO. In order to build a team, you need to become a leader rather than a boss. A boss throws his weight around, reminding his employees who pays the bills and who is in charge. That’s a mistake. If you feel like you must act that way because your employees won’t do what you want them to do, I have some simple questions for you: Who hired them? Who trained them? Who is leading them?

A coach leader doesn’t need to broadcast authority. A responsible coach leader isn’t reckless with other people’s lives and understands the need to be a coach, not a boss.

There is much, much more to say about coaching team members. Let’s continue this conversation in our next installment, as coaching is key in How to Develop a Dream Team Member.

Howard Partridge

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