An interesting thing about coaching

posted by Steve Heston on Tuesday, June 12, 2018 in In Good Company

“The interesting thing about coaching is that you have to trouble the comfortable and comfort the troubled.”

Ric Charlesworth, Australian Athlete and Coaching Legend

It would be easy to claim that if you have the right talent on the team, coaching becomes easier. Not only am I not buying that, I contend that the coaching becomes more complex and more important, the better and deeper the talent we coach. Perhaps the best example in history is Abraham Lincoln’s “Team of Rivals,” which he led to amazing unity and accomplishment.

In business, the makeup of the team is critical, and yet, it’s only part of the equation. If we’ve done a good job of recruiting and retaining the best we can afford, and if we’ve strived for diversity in skill sets, experience, perspectives and abilities – then the challenge becomes getting the best out of a) each member of the team, and b) the team as a unit.

It’s easy to tell when to “comfort the troubled,” to bring some peace to the employee who lost a deal, or made a mistake, or seems down or over-burdened. The signs are usually easy to see and the steps we might take as a leader are often more apparent. “Troubling the comfortable” is where the art comes in to the science of leadership. Knowing the motivation, make-up, mindset and mastery of our best performers, and still being able to jolt them to greater accomplishments is where the magic happens.

Give the star a simple assignment to reconnect them to the basics. Give the up-and-comer a bigger-than-life opportunity to test them, and see how the team rallies around them. Ask the team for more when they’ve accomplished a lot and give them a pass when the hits pile up.

In the final analysis, leaders – coaches – get measured on wins or losses. At least that’s how the scoreboard works. But, if leaving a legacy is our intent, and if developing successors and staying power is our mandate, the half-life of our imprint on the team will hinge on how well we coach them through the highs and the lows.


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