I’m coming out. I really want to let it show. Yes, I want the world to know: I love college basketball.
Disappointed? Don’t be. I’ve come out about a lot of things in my life. I’ve recently come clean about my addiction to Dr. Who. I once confirmed that I did, in fact, attend a Debbie Gibson concert. Years ago, I even came out of the closet. Not literally, of course. I’m afraid of small spaces.
With March Madness just weeks away, my thoughts have drifted to Cinderella teams and great coaches. It’s no secret that winning teams are led by exceptional coaches, whether you’re perennial powerhouse Duke or the up-start Panthers from Northern Iowa (UNI is my Alma Mater).
Unfortunately, many senior business leaders miss the opportunity, like their peers in the sports arena, to actively lead and engage their teams through coaching. Two common misconceptions about coaching are:
- The more senior you are, the less coaching you should do. Many executives leave the bulk of coaching to middle and front-line managers who primarily focus only on current performance rather than also coaching their teams for ongoing development and growth.
- Senior leaders and executives require little or not coaching at all. Many leaders, and their shareholders, believe they should focus only on vision, strategy, and measurable results with little focus on their own personal development. After all, they’ve been there…done that.
Coaching, at all levels of the organization, can be a powerful tool to drive engagement, performance and retention. A true coaching culture celebrates and leverages success, acknowledges and learns from mistakes and encourages personal exploration and growth.
So, how do you get there? It starts with senior leadership. Think about the coaching experiences that have influenced you the most. People frequently describe them as authentic, supportive, challenging and consistent. Ask a respected coach the secret to his or her success and the answer is, more often than not, “because I had a great coach myself.”
So, start there. Get a coach, but be prepared to do some ‘heavy lifting.’ Stepping away from your role as a leader can be challenging. It requires a commitment to seek and act on feedback that both affirms your strengths and sheds light on areas where you can, and often must, improve. It’s not easy. That, alone, should make you want to do it even more. Here are a few tips I’ve learned along my journey:
- Be vulnerable
- Ask questions
- Listen more
- Embrace individuality
- Appreciate and empower others
- Take risks
- Rinse and repeat
Coaching works. It engages employees, accelerates performance and improves retention. Guess what? It’s also fun and rewarding.
So, my secret’s out. Let’s roll!
Until next time,
Connect, Collaborate and Create! ®