Who you are is always more important than what you do. Coaching is more about the person behind the coach than his/her skills. So, excellent coaches work on themselves first before their teams. It starts inside with your personal leadership traits, such as integrity, trust, competence, authenticity and reliability.
In fact, our company logo is a group of three stacked L's representing the three levels of leadership: personal, team and organizational. You cannot expect your team to excel (or any other trait for that matter) if you are not personally excelling. Since excellence, like leadership, is built from the inside out, the most important question a leader should ask is, "Am I always working toward my personal excellence?"
Without a doubt, your personal integrity is your most prized possession. Each day, that integrity is constantly tested, and you have an opportunity to prove it or lose it with every decision you make. If you compromise your integrity, your team will stop following you out of commitment and will follow you only out of compliance with your position. If people stop following you, you aren't really leading anymore regardless of your title.
Doing the right thing is not always the easiest thing - but it is always the right thing to do. Choosing to do the right thing - even when it's painful - ensures you will maintain your most precious possession throughout your personal and professional journey - your integrity.
Excellent coaches have a good say/do ratio. That's the ratio of things you say you will do to the things you follow through on and do. In a perfect world, your say/do ratio is 1:1, meaning you have done everything that you said you would do. There is a rhythm of say, do, say, do, say, do because excellent coaches view their word as their promise. So, they are discerning about what they say, and once they say something they deliver on their verbal promise. Keeping your word or simply doing the right thing is rarely convenient, but excellent coaches let their actions rise above their excuses.
Simply being aware of your say/do ratio can help change your behavior - improving your follow-through and more cautiously making promises. Common, harmless statements we all often hear include: "I'll call you later," "I'll bring that article in for you," "Let's have lunch sometime," "I'll see if I can find that email and forward it to you," or "I'll follow up next week." They too often are just that - statements with no sense of personal promise behind them.
Reliable coaches do what they say. It seems so simple and at such a low bar to be reliable. You might ask whether people even remember all those little promises. They might not but be assured they do notice when you deliver on them. When someone always follows through, it is impressive. It is the quickest way to build credibility and trust with others.
If you want to have a high say/do ratio, really think about your words. When you are about to say something that you will do, stop and ask yourself, "Do I really intend to act on this?" If the answer is "no," then just don't say it. Talk is cheap, but actions are like gold.
Being reliable does not mean saying "yes" to everyone. On the contrary, reliable people use discretion when they make commitments because they consider their commitments as personal promises to others. However, most people tend to slip on their commitments because they overestimate their available free time, want to please others, have unclear priorities and lack guiding principles for when to say "yes" or "no" to requests.