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  • Writer's pictureDr. Patrick E. Crawford

Coaching and Mentoring

Leadership Thoughts | Issue #90

“Your title makes you a manager; your people make you a leader.”

– Bill Campbell.

I recently read an article by Bill George and Zack Clayton titled, Successful Leaders are Great Coaches. I was drawn to this article because Bill George was one of the authors, and I’ve always believed it is a leader’s responsibility to encourage, guide, coach, and mentor others.

Bill George is the former Medtronic CEO and current Harvard Business School Professor. He is the author of a must-read leadership book, Discover Your True North.

I have two specific messages embedded in this week’s PLDC Newsletter article.

  1. Leaders should be coaching and mentoring others.

  2. Leaders need coaching and mentoring.

by Bill George and Zach Clayton | Leadership Development, October 6, 2022

George and Clayton used the COACH acronym to describe their recommended approach to coaching.

  • Care for your teammates.

  • Organize them into their “sweet spot.”

  • Align them around the organization’s purpose and values.

  • Challenge them to reach their full potential.

  • Help them reach their goals.

Care: Build Understanding and Trust

The lesson from this part of the acronym becomes self-evident if you take a few minutes to think about your experiences in working for a boss you trust and who cared about you and one that couldn’t be trusted. Most of us can recall experiences with both types of leaders. Although we were probably compliant with the boss, who couldn’t be charged, we soon found employment elsewhere.

Organize: Get People in Their Sweet Spot

Jim Collin’s book, Good to Great, said, “get the right people on the bus, and the people in the right seats.” The authors describe the right seat as where people’s strengths and intrinsic motivations intersect.

Align: Unite People Around a Common Vision and Purpose

I agree with the authors that aligning employees with the purpose and values of the organization is challenging. The mission and vision of the organization are too often disconnected from people’s daily activities; therefore, it is often difficult to relate.

Challenge: Summon People’s Best

Challenging people to push beyond their comfort zone is the main attribute of a coach. The best people in an organization want to be challenged. I recently heard someone say that 10% of people in any organization do 90% of the work. I don’t have any data to support that statement, but my colleagues and I describe it this way. Any organization has racehorses, plow horses, and dead horses. The racehorses need the challenge to run, and they will; plow horses need to be respected for daily attention to the task at hand, and dead horses need to be removed.

Help: Solve Problems and Celebrate Success

In the days of command-and-control management, the leaders were expected to solve problems and tell people what to do. Today all organization members are viewed as capable, contributing members and colleagues instead of subordinates. Coaching leaders help think through different options and solve problems instead of solving their problems. Celebrating success is an often forgotten but essential aspect of recognizing people for their accomplishments.

Consider the following:

  1. How are you coaching and mentoring people in your organization?

  2. Who are your mentors, and are you being coached to achieve your best?

  3. Can you identify how the five parts of the COACH acronym are prevalent in your organization?


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