“I’m not gonna talk to you tonight about winnin’ and losin’. You’re already winners…”

– Coach Herman Boone, Denzel Washington, from Remember the Titans

Throughout my career I have had the opportunity to be a part of teams led by great leaders. One was Erv Barnes. Erv was not the kind of leader that would tell you what to do. He always took the time to help his team understand his vision so we in turn could set our own goals and lead our own way forward. He would guide and not dictate. And, like the quote from Coach Boone in Remember the Titans, Erv usually motivated with positive affirmations. I always felt like a winner working with Erv, and I always felt like I was the master of my own destiny.

To drive greater success, leaders will become more of a coach and less dependent on command and control. What does this mean? How do you as a leader learn how to do this?

The two basic elements of coaching are the process and the style or behavioral approach.

The basic process I use includes three steps:

  1. Understand the future state.
  2. Understand the current state.
  3. Understand actions required to go from current state to future state.

As you’re speaking with the person you are coaching, you help draw out the answers to these questions. The call to action is when you operationalize the third step – by asking them to commit to an action step to move forward.

You cannot go through these three steps mechanically. There is a behavioral element that requires listening and empathy. If you are the leader, and the coach, you cannot tell your employee what to do during a coaching session if you want lasting results. You must guide them to reach their own conclusions. This creates greater ownership for them which means they are more likely to execute.

Your job is to listen, and not to advocate for one course of action or another. You do this with empathy, seeking to understand the employee’s place in their journey so that you can help them make reasonable commitments to next steps. While you don’t advocate a course of action, you can certainly help the employee choose from a course of action based on helping them think through risks and probabilities of success of various options.

If this is new to you, you likely won’t be an overnight success. With practice and patience, you will prevail, and you will grow you influence and your leadership.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this article. Please go out to LinkedIn to add your comments.

Dedicated to your profitable transformation,



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