OK I’m going to be honest. With all due respect, I’ve never been much for coaching, as I grew up knowing it. I wasn’t on my school sports teams, I’ve never trained myself for a marathon and even though I grew up in Indiana, my basketball diaries are limited to a few slow-moving games of Horse (or Pig if I was really lazy).
In fact, I’ve always loved this line of Woody Allen’s, from the film “Annie Hall”:
“Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach. Those who can’t teach, teach gym.”
OK so maybe that quote isn’t so nice, and it’s certainly not accurate … the world is full of talented teachers. But for guys like me and Woody, surely standing near the opposite poles of physical fitness, the coach has always been a scary guy with a loud whistle and a demanding nature. (I’m not being sexist … a lot of women coaches scare me just as much.)
With the exception of attitude and style, corporate coaching is not much different than athletics. The principles are the same, with both seeking to elevate performance to its highest levels. Only the approaches are sometimes different.
Which brings us to 10 examples. With this blog I’m continuing to share some of a series of coaching-related resource lists compiled from Bluepoint Leadership Development. For this outing, they’ve shared a list of the Top 10 Qualities of Great Coaches:
#1. Have a spirit of generosity. They liberally share their time, attention and energy with others.
#2. See the best in others. They choose to look past the shortcomings of others to focus on their positive qualities, even if deeply hidden.
#3. Have high self-esteem. They feel good enough about themselves that they do not use the coaching relationship to feed their egos.
#4. Are emotionally mature. They are keenly self-aware, understand how to manage their emotions and are able to create substantial relationships with others.
#5. Are interpersonally courageous. They boldly confront those they coach and seek the path to truth in all conversations.
#6. Have uncommon compassion. They understand the struggle and pain that often accompanies personal learning and change.
#7. Are life-long learners. They have voracious appetites for new knowledge and self-development.
#8. Are strong enough to bend. They have a unique blend of flexibility and resilience that allows them to weather the disappointments, setbacks and conflicts inherent in the coaching process.
#9. Have an accepting nature. They recognize and silence their judgmental voices that are a natural part of the human condition.
#10. Have a perpetual optimistic bias. They help the person being coached see that they have the power to create a tomorrow that is better than today.
I have to say, I like this vision of coaches, and if my earlier gym teachers were a little more along these lines and a little less loud, I might be a bigger sports fan today than I am.
But in the spirit of fairness to coaches everywhere, let me tell you quickly about Wilbert Logan, gym teacher and athletic director at my high school back in the day. When I was struggling to keep up with calisthenics, he scared me a little. But on the day I graduated, he shook my hand and told me words I still remember: “You weren’t always the best at sports, but you tried your hardest every time, and that’s all that mattered.”
Do you have a coach that’s helped your career? Did you have a coach that inspired you? Be sure to let him or her know the impact they’ve made.