Good and great leaders look strangely similar. They both know what to watch for; what to measure; what data to collect. They both have systems and reports that produce efficiency. They are clear on their vision and purpose. They dress the same and come from similar places. However, you won’t hear good leaders talking about how they develop people, that’s where great leaders stand apart from the crowd.
Great leaders give special attention to developing people.
Morgan Wootten, a high school basketball coach with an impressive record (forty consecutive seasons with at least twenty wins; five national championships; and number one ranking in his region in twenty out of thirty-three years), never planned to coach. His ambition was to be an attorney. He first started coaching a fledgling team of orphans when he was in college. This is when he realized he wanted to invest his time in children, not in court cases. The first year he had a student who was stealing and constantly being picked up by the police. Wootten took the boy under his wing. He was straightforward with him about his future. Beyond the straight talk, Wootten began to include him in his family. This kid was bound for a life of crime until Wootten gave him the gift of investing in him. Wootten has done it every year since.
Investment is obviously the secret sauce for turning out champions.
Whether you are practicing law or creating a work of art; running a Fortune 500 company or singing in the Opera; starting a business or teaching in the local school, developing the people around you will leave you satisfied. Start seeing yourself as a “life improver” for those in your path. When we risk diving into people’s lives with the kind of conviction and courage that can truly propel them forward in all areas of their lives, we will experience a new kind of fulfillment.
What does it look like to dive into a person’s life like a coach does his athletes? It involves individual time with them focused on a handful of things.
1. You want them to stop, think, and truly assess their current situation. Make sure they have defined their reality. What are they responsible for? What are they tolerating? I recently met someone who hadn’t slept well in five months because they had a six month old puppy. If he would stop, think and assess that situation, he could come up with a better plan than just giving up his sleep.
2. Clarify their vision, define their goals. Most people constantly react to events, people, things rather than being driven by purpose. Many of us can reach our 50s and realize we never really lived intentionally.
3. Understand and address roadblocks to their vision. We are most blinded to the things that are comfortable and familiar to us. A fresh set of eyes can help us see things that we were missing. I recently met with someone who wanted to accomplish a big task. However, they had never scheduled time, actually marked off days, to get it done.
4. Test their thinking, and conclusions. We already know that doing the same thing over and over, but expecting different results is not working. But we do it anyway. Having someone ask us, “What could you do differently?” And pushing us to try something different will help us get off the merry-go-round. The absolute best thing we can do for each other is challenge each other to think.
5. Establish accountability. Too often people confuse intent with action. We all need action steps. What are you going to do and by what time?
If you begin to invest in people like this, you will get 6X the return on your investment according to Manchester Consulting Group's analysis of coaching in Fortune 500 companies.
There are people everywhere longing for someone to help them become more than they currently are. In order for you to effectively coach the people in your world, you will need to model all of the above five points. You must stop, think, assess for yourself; clarify your vision and goals, as well as see the potential in others; understand and address your own roadblocks (likely with someone else’s help); look for what is not visible and understand what is not being said; listen carefully and ask excellent questions; and be straight forward in your communication. Which of those areas do you need to focus some attention on today?
Every professional athlete has a coach. The best musicians have vocal coaches. All of us would benefit from having a coach in our lives. My challenge to you today is: who should you be coaching? And what do you have to do to get started today?