The smartest leaders have coaches. Here’s how to find yours.
With all the respect that is due to Joe Montana, Terry Bradshaw, Steve Young, Dan Marino, Peyton Manning, John Elway and even my beloved Chicago Bears’ Sid Luckman, the New England Patriots’ Tom Brady is the best quarterback ever to play the game. Super Bowl 51 proved it.
Brady has a head coach (Bill Belichick), a position coach (Josh McDaniels, who is also the teams’ offensive coordinator), an assistant quarterback coach (Jerry Schuplinski), a personal throwing coach (Tom House, who is not part of the Patriots’ staff), and a private health and wellness coach (Alex Guerrero). And those are just the ones I, a casual fan, know about.
If Tom Brady can have a coach—or five—you can too.
Last time, we talked about how to find the right tactical coaches you need for things like sales and finances.
This time, I want to broaden the field a bit and discuss five other kinds of coaches you might want to employ to up your game. I am going to talk about how coaches in these five areas helped me, and I am going single out those who did. I encourage my clients and friends to work with coaches they trust deeply. Although connecting people I trust to problems they know how to solve is one of my favorite things to do, my priority here is to inspire the idea that you can be a better leader and empower your ability to make it happen—starting today.
So let’s talk about five more areas where you might benefit from coaching.
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The Executive Coaches
You feel stuck. Things are getting done at work but not the right things. Your staff tells you there is no clear strategy. There is a lack of accountability or commitment on your executive team. You are at odds with your partner. You are losing your mojo. If any of these symptoms sound familiar, it might be time to consider bringing in an executive coach.
Because operational focus and interpersonal focus require different talents and tools, from my experience it’s wise to break down executive coaching into two groups: systems coaches and leadership coaches.
Leadership coaches, like Rich Hill of Gabriel Consulting Group, Christina Harbridge of Allegory and Patrick Lencioni and Keith Hadley of The Table Group, focus on the interpersonal dynamics of teams. They understand that trust and goal alignment are critical to any team. By applying a careful balance of emotional intelligence, dialogue and feedback loops, they rebalance and jump-start high-performing teams and leaders. I’ve spent quality time with each of these coaches and was struck by their ability to quickly challenge my assumptions. They made me understand that corporate dysfunction starts with the leader—that the fish stinks from the head down. Who is challenging the leaders of your company?
Systems coaches instill the tools necessary to get more things done. They understand that executing a strategy depends on SMART (Specific, Measurable, Agreed upon, Realistic, Time-based) goals and regular check-ins with every team in your company. The best systems coaches I’ve worked with used to run their own company and have an operational mindset. This means they are more concerned with measurement than interpersonal dynamics. My friends Rich Manders, Jill Belconis, Dan Heuertz, Andy Bailey, Todd Smart, Mike Michalowitz, Barry Moltz, Daniel Marcos, Cameron Herold and Marc Roth all are cut from the operational cloth. I’ve seen them all work miracles by showing teams how and when to measure the right things.
The Spiritual Advisor
When I was a kid, it always seemed odd to me when I heard one of my parent’s friends say they had “met with their priest” to discuss a tough challenge. It doesn’t any more. Spiritual advisors—regardless of religious affiliation—have a way of focusing and clarifying conversations. Since they spend much of their time with people in crisis, they bring with them the gift of perspective. They help leaders focus on what really matters and keep us from getting caught up in the weeds.
The Creativity Coach
Yes, this is a thing. Many leaders believe they have an innovation challenge—they lack disruptive ideas—but what they really have is a creativity challenge. Said differently, the most creative people in the company are untapped, unmotivated and underprepared. My friend Susan Robertson has spent the last two decades facilitating brainstorms for Fortune 100s and now teaches about creative thinking at Harvard to executives who have recognized an unfair competitive advantage waiting to happen. According to creativity expert Bob Eckert, fear of failure is just the tip of the iceberg. “Everyone is born a problem-solver. We must help our teams overcome fear and then give them the space, tools and targets to put their creative powers to use.”
The Coaching Communities
Lucky for business leaders, there are communities like Young Presidents’ Organization, Entrepreneurs’ Organization, Vistage, Gazelles International and Stagen Integral Leadership Academy. These communities add up to tens of thousands of executives in over 140 countries—all connected by the common desire to become better people and better leaders. If you don’t belong to a leadership group, I strongly urge you to join one or tap one for some coaching help. All of us are smarter than any of us.
The Physical Trainer
When I was younger, I would go to the gym and work out with friends. A higher metabolism and plenty of time made it easier to stay in shape. Today, my metabolism and time are both diminished. Most leaders eventually have the same challenge.
Dr. Ari Levy is pushing innovation in the personal health category. The former doctor for the Chicago Blackhawks just launched Shift in Chicago to provide a comprehensive solution for busy people. I was blown away by his comprehensive approach to what I thought was just another executive physical. Says Ari, “We need to build health with doctors, trainers, dietitians and coaches working together to help people understand and experience what health feels like.” Jeff Bryk is also serving this busy market. He’s a money manager who started training executives for fun. What I’ve learned from Jeff is that with a stopwatch, an eye for data and some planning, you can cram 90 minutes of exercise in a 30-minute session. I also learned how to overcome the desire to vomit in public. #feeltheburn
I included a physical trainer because successful leaders are strategically selfish; they take care of themselves first, second and third. They know that if they are not highly functioning, they can’t support the teams that depend on them.
It is interesting to note that Tom Brady is fanatical about his workout routine and what he eats. If that approach is good enough for Brady, it is good enough for you.
Tom Brady knows something about winning.
This article was written by Mike Maddock from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.