A great leader is a great coach.

For years, I have asked clients who their best leader has been in their careers. Predictably responses include that "My best leader...

  • pushed me
  • believed in me
  • helped me realize my potential.
  • invested time in developing me."

In other words, these really good leaders were really great coaches.

During my 25 years of working with leaders from leading businesses, all the complimentary phrases I have heard can be boiled down to three daily habits that great coaches employ. They are habits because these leaders view coaching as core to their role not as an extra administrative task. They also realize that a leader is only as successful as his/her team, so to goal is to equip their teams to succeed.

Clarity

They articulate their leadership values and behavioral expectations. When I was in a corporate leadership role, I communicated "Lee's 3 F's": Fair, Focused and Fun. It provided a framework for discussion about what my team could expect from me and what I expected from them.

They spend a disproportionate amount of time and effort time clarifying expectations because they know that is where the coaching game is won or lost. They use that clarity they create to boost accountability for results, most times with the simplest of accountability tools like the 4 W's (What, Why, Who and When) to clarify expectations and track accountabilities.

Investment

Great coaches defy the salt and pepper principle of coaching meaning that sprinkling a little hear and a little there, like seasoning your food, is just enough.

Ongoing investment in others is not always easy or comfortable. It means giving real-time feedback and having some tough discussions. Great coaches are no more comfortable doing this than average coaches, but they realize they have a responsibility to invest in their teams that supersedes their personal comfort level.

They see their employees' potential and natural gifts and help draw them out. Great coaches ultimately help good employees become even better people.

Service

They see themselves as serving their teams, so they become an enabler or performance and innovation versus a barrier. They know that great leadership and coaching is not about themselves, they avoid the most common derailer of leadership success--ego.

They also an example of true service by serving outside of the organization also whether it is in community service, a non-profit board, coaching a youth team, at church, being a Big Brother/Sister. The options are endless, so this a great way to express who you are and what you are passionate about.

Start today with clarity, investment and service and you are on your way to becoming a great coach.