Monday, March 1, 2010

A Coach by any other name

Thirty years later I can still hear his voice thundering in my ears: “Get away from it, get away from it!”  Punt returns in a football game  can be very stressful.  On a bad kick we were taught to let the ball pass by, treat it like a live grenade.  Take the favorable yardage donated to us by our opponent.

If only our business competitors could give us a bad punt or two from time to time.  Business may be a competition, but the dynamics are very different, despite the analogies and rhetoric.

Do a little experiment.  List as many really good coaches as you can in the next fifteen seconds.  I would be willing to bet that the majority of you will have an impressive list of sports coaches, but few business ones.  Despite the fact that as a kid I dreamed of becoming an NFL star, I have far outpaced my expectations in business success.  A key reason, business coaches.  (And damn little football talent beyond the high school level)

Coaches come in all shapes, sizes and temperaments.   All effective coaches know one thing, the person they are coaching has everything they need inside of them to be successful.  A truly skilled coach can bring that to light.  There are some big differences  between coaching in sport and coaching in business, but the previously mentioned secret remains constant for both.

Skilled business coaches know another secret.  Don’t expect the mountain to come to you, you need to go to the mountain.  Or, put another way, if you want to help others succeed through coaching, you need to adapt to their style of development.

Contrast this with coaching in sport.  Good athletic coaches teach, motivate, help build character and set a tone of  “my way or the highway.”  They have to do this because they are as much leaders as they are coaches.  Good business coaches do not need to lead (although they can be leaders in an organization), they need to serve.  Good business coaches are there for the individual, to bring the latent talent to light.

Coaching is one of the most effective tools a professional can have whether they are a leader, manager or individual contributor.  Coaching for Effective Performance delivers an increased level of competence in this vital skill by introducing coaching skills and creating an environment where the skill can be practiced.