Innovation Junkies Podcast

Great Leaders Are Great Coaches

The Jeffs talk about characteristics of good leaders & coaches. They chat about constructive criticism and feedback, training up future leaders, & the importance of individualized coaching.

Jeff Standridge:
If you want to drastically improve your business, learn proven growth strategies and generate sustained results for your organization, you’ve come to the right place. Welcome to the Innovation Junkies podcast.

Speaker 2:
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Jeff Standridge:
Hey guys, Jeff Standridge here and welcome to another bonus episode of the Innovation Junkies podcast. How you doing Jeff?

Jeff Amerine:
I’m great. Glad to be back. It’s good talking to you today.

Jeff Standridge:
Yeah, me too, man. What’s going on in your world? What are we talking about today?

Jeff Amerine:
I was just contemplating the fact that great leaders are also great coaches. That would be the hypothesis for today. What do you think about that?

Jeff Standridge:
So whenever I lead a workshop on leadership, I often ask people to name the Academy Award winner for best male actor and in a motion picture for last year. And pretty much across the board, no one can answer it. Maybe one person occasionally. Then I ask them about the best female actress. And, again, almost no one can answer that. Then I ask everyone to raise their hands if they can think of a person who was a teacher or a coach that changed their life and universally across the room, everyone raises their hands.
And so I think you’re exactly right. I think being a coach or a teacher, and a coach is a form of teacher obviously, is probably the single greatest form of leadership and vice versa. The single greatest form of leadership is when you’re coaching individuals or groups to reach higher pinnacles, perhaps, than what they’ve ever reached before. How about you?

Jeff Amerine:
Yeah, I would agree. I would agree. And I think of people that are also thought leaders that have done a good job in coaching their own organizations like Ray Dalio, who’s built a very strong culture there. And it’s very clear that he’s created a coaching environment. There’s also fantastic open communication in that environment.
But, as I reflect on the leaders that I’ve had that I thought were really good and that had an impact on me, they were the ones that would invest in you, that if you did something that wasn’t in line with what they thought, it wasn’t this autocratic response. They typically worked pretty hard to coach you up to the next level. They spent a lot of time in educating and trying to educate, mentor, and coach their people to get to that next level. And I think that, as a leader, if you want to build a good team and followers, a lot of it is coaching versus dictating.

Jeff Standridge:
Yeah. I think it is. And it’s not just coaching an individual or coaching a group it’s individualized coaching. So, I’m drawn to a phrase out of Ken Blanchard and Spencer Jones’s book back in, gosh, the 90s called The One Minute Manager. Spencer Johnson, sorry. And that phrase was, “there’s nothing so unequal as the equal treatment of unequals”.
And what that phrase really means is that, yeah, there’s different strokes for different folks, but there’s also different strokes for the same folks, depending upon whatever the task is that you’ve given them, and their confidence and their competence in performing that task. So I might be delegating to an employee or to someone who works with me or for me in one set of responsibilities. But I might be directing them and coaching them in another set of responsibilities. Because there’s risks surrounding the tasks, or maybe there’s a lack of competence or confidence on the part of the person performing the task. And so coaches, good coaches and good leaders know how to individualize their coaching based upon the needs of the individual and the circumstances in which that individual is performing.

Jeff Amerine:
How do you think leaders can become better at that coaching capability and that set of coaching tasks? How can they accumulate those skills in their career?

Jeff Standridge:
I think one way is by looking to emulate those folks that have been great coaches to them. I think of a person in my career who put me in situations where I was probably not the most comfortable and expected me to perform in that regard. But then also was there to help me through that particular situation, whether it was sending me to Europe and saying, “Hey, we want you to go integrate 27 different acquisitions in seven countries. And we want you to be the person leading that initiative.”
Well, I’d never done that before, but she was there a phone call away because I was halfway across the world or around the world. She was a phone call away and was able to provide me with the coaching that I needed. And so I’ve sought to think about who are the most influential coaches in my life and what were the things that they did that had an impact on me? And then how can I build those practices, in my own way, into my own leadership of others? How about you?

Jeff Amerine:
Yeah. I mean, it’s really important. I was just reflecting on that. You think about sometimes as you’re trying to develop people you can ruin a great individual contributor by elevating them to a leadership or a managerial position without helping them develop the skills, and I think coaching is one of them, that will give them the opportunity to succeed.
And it’s tough to make that, and you see it all the time in sports. Some great players, and some average players can make that transition to being a coach and a leader. And some can’t just because it’s something that I think you have to invest time in and you have to really work on it because it’s different than being the star. A good coach and a good leader in many instances is behind the scenes in some ways so that their people can be elevated and the ones that are in the spotlight.

Jeff Standridge:
Yeah. I also believe that if you had to pick one skill as a coach that would set you apart from 95% of other coaches, it would be the skill of giving constructive feedback. Really sitting down with a person and being able to have a conversation with them to constructively acknowledge the things that they’re doing well. But more importantly, to give them constructive yet critical feedback about the things they’re not doing well and help them come to an understanding of how they can do it better.
I often say feedback is the breakfast of champions. And if you figure out how to give individualized, constructive feedback and do it in a way that is clear, that is unambiguous, that they know precisely when they walk out of there, what the issues and opportunities are for them to perform better, then you will be head and shoulders above 95% of the other leaders and coach is out there in the world.

Jeff Amerine:
That’s sage advice. No doubt about it.

Jeff Standridge:
All right. This has been another episode of the Innovation Junkies podcast. Great leaders also make great coaches. Thanks for joining us. See you next time.

Jeff Amerine:
See you next time.

Jeff Amerine (Outro):
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