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The Second Persona of a Thriving Leader: Leader as Coach



After operating a lawn care service for three years with my brother when I was thirteen, I landed my first employed job as the cotton candy maker at our pool’s snack bar. The following year I was the manager. I was seventeen. Was there competition for the job? Was I groomed all summer while swirling sugar around? Absolutely not. Just before the season started, the previous manager announced she was not returning. A few others were returning, but the owner decided I had the work ethic needed to lead the team. While she may have assessed my work ethic well, I had no other actual leadership experience or training. Does this promotion process sound familiar?


When one takes the leap from individual contributor to leading contributors, different skills are required. Even more importantly, how one finds joy in their day-to-day work changes significantly. Think: little league coaches. Although they no longer score a goal or make a touch down themselves, they are elated when one of their players accomplishes this feat. They are thrilled when each team member plays well. The joy is in enabling the team to play their best.


Leadership is a team sport. Do you feel pride and delight in the successes of your team at work? Great leaders actively coach those they serve to bring out the potential of all individual contributors. The following behaviors are exhibited by those who coach well.

1. Squeezing The Most Out of Routine 1:1s

2. Offering Recognition That Thrills

3. Connecting Contributions to Values & Mission

4. Possessing Words That Inspire/Influence

5. Managing Performance Issues and Setting Expectations

6. Owning Your Personal Development

7. Routinely Offering the Gift of Feedback

8. Delegating and Empowering Individuals and Teams

9. Thoughtfully Preparing and Delivering Evaluations that Matter

10. Embracing The Art of Onboarding

11. Maintaining a Positive Focus

12. Navigating Alleged Difficult Conversations


How do you rate in each of these twelve areas? Which are opportunities for you? A commitment to each will score you a team of engaged employees and fulfill your sense of accomplishment, truly a “winwin.”


In their 2019 Harvard Business Review article, Leader as Coach, Ibarra and Scoular outline the business case for why this persona, or as they call it “model” is needed. They offer that what is required in today’s environment is that “managers give support and guidance rather than instructions, and employees learn how to adapt to constantly changing environments in ways that unleash fresh energy, innovation, and commitment.” They provide a thorough review of the G.R.O.W. model for how to provide feedback as a coach, which would benefit you in numbers 5, 7, 9, and 12 listed above. Their premise is that organizations must create the capacity for learning and development at all levels of management.


When the little league team is undefeated, we typically consider this a reflection of how the coach developed the raw talent of the players. I had the work ethic needed to lead the team but I had to learn how. When you grow your own capabilities in the twelve behaviors of a leader as coach, your contribution to your team plays out in how they excel. Everybody wins.


Join us on Monday, December 13th at noon PST for a discussion on how leaders thrive. Reserve your spot here. For more leadership tips like: The Six Personas of a Thriving Leader list, go to our Thriving Leader Collaborative learning site.


We invite you to take the quick quizzes for assessing how you attend to your spirit and how you thrive as a leader. We call these our “woowoo” and “winwin” assessments – take them today for free! https://bit.ly/KnowYourWooWoo - https://bit.ly/YourWinWin


Have a look at our upcoming Thriving Leader Collaborative retreats on our new website and join the conversation in the TLC Community.


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