You Have to be a Good Player to be a Great Coach

You Have to be a Good Player to be a Great Coach image 2600 strategy chessYou Have to be a Good Player to be a Great CoachDoes anyone really believe there is any value in saying, “Do as I say, not as I do?” If you are a parent, you’re probably already pretty convinced that this approach doesn’t work.

Thomas Merton is credited with first defining the term “role model.” His definition was a person in a position you aspire to. In a workplace, being a role model is more and different than simply being in a position others aspire to. Eagle’s Flight CEO Phil Geldart refers to workplace follow-the leader phenomena as “the body follows the head.” Think of a normal performance curve, or bell curve, as shown below.

At the far left end of the curve are the early adopters. No matter what the circumstance, early adopters are likely to try out new things that become available to them, at least for a while.

Think of people you know who are always up to speed on the latest book or theory, or who make wholesale change after attending a workshop. On the far right are skeptics, and people who really do not want to, or intend to, change unless forced.

In the context of making changes following a training program, the large “bell” in the middle is made up of those people who either make change only as needed, or who wait to see what will happen before making an effort to change. Essentially, this large critical population is waiting to see what you (and other leaders) will do, and what you will require of them.

Being a role model as a leader coach means showing integrity by doing everything possible to live the messages you espouse. To be a great coach you need to be a good player. We say good because we know that not everyone can be great at everything. When you find yourself in a position of having to coach a skill that you are not great at, show your efforts. Ask for feedback so that it’s obvious you’re working on new behaviors, as you expect others to do so.

If you really mess up as a model, do some positive PR for yourself, using the same method any good PR person would:

Stop the bleeding – meaning take emergency measures if needed (apologize to someone affected immediately, “stop the presses” if you have put something in motion you should not have).

Say what you are doing to make things right.

Stand on your record as a model.

If you are not already driving the training plans that will affect your team, you might also consider getting more involved. After all, they will dictate the behaviors that the larger organization then depends upon you to ensure take root .

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