What It Takes To Be A Coach – Do You Have It?
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I've been in the coaching game full time since the late 1990s and have coached hundreds of people over the years. I’ve realized that the skills I employ are mostly the same ones my advisor clients need to be successful.
I’ve gotten a lot of questions about what it takes to be a coach, so let me lay out the essential elements:
The love of helping others succeed. It's no accident that I listed this first. If you don't understand that the only way to win the game of coaching is to help others define what success means to them, and then help them get it, consider other options. Check your ego at the door because it's all about the players, not you.
Hunter versus farmer mentality. A great coach typically has a "farmer" mentality, willing to grow his people over the long haul. Many organizations promote top performers to become leaders, then witness them stumble. An example from the sports world: Michael Jordan is considered by many (me included) to be the greatest of all time (GOAT) player in the NBA. But he has hardly been successful in his leadership role as a team owner.
The joy of playing the game. I loved pick-up basketball. I played at the local YMCA and outside on the playground for 40 years. (I'm gonna take up golf when I get old ...) The guys I played with knew that when I was in there I wanted to win. With my clients that means that I will do whatever it takes to prepare them to win their game – whether it's giving them an article to read on networking skills, rehearsing sales interview questions before big appointments to asking if they've recited their mission statement every morning.
Character counts. People can spot a phony a mile away. If I'm asking certain things of my clients, I'd better be walking the talk myself. So I continually read books on business development, use consultative interview skills with my own prospects, and never miss a day of doing my morning success ritual.
Willingness to learn. Innovation through learning is one of the keys to success – great coaches are students of their game. In my case, I have a goal of reading at least 40 business-related books a year. Some people wonder how I do it – I tell them it’s part of my job. My clients are looking to me for ideas to help them improve, and these ideas are not going to come from watching my Chicago sports teams blow another close one on TV.