Are you gaining this coaching bonus from your coach?
The Coaching Bonus
Years ago my client, Todd, asked me to share what I was learning from, and about, great leaders in other companies. He wanted this coaching bonus to be part of our ongoing exchange. You see, Todd is a curious and avid learner. He’s constantly looking under rocks and around corners in search of something new to learn, and someone new to learn from.
I learned from Todd that knowledge sharing across, between, and among leaders is a valuable coaching bonus, and now pay it forward to eager learners, when the lesson is relevant and helpful.
The Coach as Knowledge Transfer Agent
The best leaders are hungry to learn from and with each other. Given the 24/7 clock, many leaders create few opportunities for shared learning across companies. The coach, however, can serve as substitute teacher and knowledge transfer agent. Stories are one of the best ways to do so.
Stories are an excellent learning vehicle, especially when what we need to learn is laced with psychological meaning and emotional potency. Hearing stories about other leaders’ journeys, mistakes, challenges, and lessons learned along the way, is a powerful way for leaders to self-reflect. They learn more about themselves, in the context of, or by contrast to, other leaders. Stories can also help people develop a vision of the leader they aspire to become.
Todd’s Leadership Journey
Todd’s own story, about the importance of being a passionate leader, is one I frequently share. During the course of our work Todd complained, “I’m just phoning it in every day. My heart isn’t in it anymore. My passion is gone. I value giving your best, your total commitment, to everything you choose to do. It’s what I teach my kids, and here I am violating my own values. I feel like a fraud.”
After a short discussion, Todd and I agreed to experiment with shifting his purpose, focus, and goals at work. Todd loves to coach. What he loves best, is seeing a player do something they consider beyond their capabilities, and well within the realm of impossible. So we decided his purpose and main focus would be coaching his direct reports. The reward, and goal, was to stretch their capabilities to the point of doing something they never thought possible. Todd was anxious and a bit reluctant. He wasn’t sure the group would reach their sales goals, if he made coaching people to exceed their own expectations a priority. So we agreed that if the numbers dipped, he would revert to his old ways after the 3-month experiment. Three months went by. The numbers got better. Five years later his team continues to receive the award for best year over year sales growth. They also have the lowest cost of sales in the company. Lesson learned and shared. Passionate leadership makes a bottom line difference and a happier leader.