15 Qualities of Great Coaches
The dearth of talent speaks to self-absorbed leaders who focus more on results than people.
Dedicate yourself to developing people. Great people deliver great results.
The coaching-leader is the leader of the future.
15 qualities of great coaches:
- Grow themselves. Know-it-alls make lousy coaches.
- Practice self-reflection. Growth requires reflection. Successful coaches know how to observe themselves and others.
- Enjoy people.
- Ask more than tell. Curiosity drives the coaching process. Knowing, at least in the beginning, gets in the way. Even if you think you know, pretend you don’t.
- Leave space for responses. Silence precedes enlightenment.
- Reveal their own journey when it’s helpful, but don’t need to out-do, one-up, or talk about themselves.
- Have their own coach. Great coaches have coaches.
- Show compassion. Compassion builds foundations for tough conversations.
- Challenge bull crap. Great coaches challenge one-sided perceptions, narrow perspectives, and inconsistencies.
- Embrace your goals. Coaches who don’t accept your goals are manipulators.
- Keep secrets.
- Feel optimism about people and progress. Great coaches believe progress is probable with work.
- Focus on behaviors within control.
- Let go of past failures and disappointments. Growth requires starting over.
- Don’t need to be right; explore options.
Bonus: Press for improvement, progress, and results.
The difference between hand-holding and coaching is high expectation.
Which coaching qualities could you practice today? How?
What qualities would you add to the list?
PC’s have provided the metaphor of the CRTL-ALT-DEL scenario, from time to time we all need a reset, regardless of the quality of our plan, the sincerity of our heart, or the record of achievement we bring. Great coaches recognize that a reboot will be beneficial and the time to do so is well spent, not wasted. They support/encourage when the process feels stalled…
Thanks Ken. Love it. I loke the idea of drawing a line in the sand and starting over.
Ken, your suggestion of rebooting the computer of our mind and our thinking is a fantastic coaching and leadership tool. I can see it as a means of wiping out what has hampered our past performance, and provide us not only with new abilities but new programs to guide us in new directions in our future. Anyone who has rebooted their computer and experienced how well it works thereafter—knows it can even give us a new and refreshed attitude.
You also made mention of the all-important word “process.” Between people and results there’s process…when staff members as individuals and as a team “create.” There’s no more thinking about how to begin, no more questions about where to get started, no more ideas of what needs to be done, no more deliberating insofar as the vision of the end product, and no more questions or meetings of how best to serve either customer or the organization. There’s only creating…getting the “work of art” done…process.
Great comment, Ken.
Thank you Books, I’m glad the comment stimulated your thoughts and I appreciate that you took a few moments to say so. Enjoy your day and life journey.
I am very interested in understanding the “Keep Secrets” quality. It sounds negative, but I am sure it is not to be.
Thanks Bill. A great coach doesn’t reveal a confidence. I meant it in the positive sense. Thanks for asking.
Thanks Dan, That definitly sheds light on it and makes sense. I knew it was positive, just wasn’t sure how.
I have been saying this for years!
Thanks Joe. Great minds. 😀
Numbers 1,6 (1) If you want win, you have to know that, a know it all, doesn’t know it all, probably knows less, (6) the, I can one up on that one, Peter Pan, the kid you never grew up. GREAT POST!
Thanks Ron. Best gor the journey. “A know it all doesn’t know it all.” 😀
Great coaches win or lose always produce greatness in others.
Great coaches always take responsibility for poor performance.
Great coaches build teams people want to belong to and support.
Wow! Great add. Thanks Dean.
I really love #15. I think there is a difference between having to be right and an insistence on accuracy. Insistence on accuracy requires openness and exploration for the best decision, approach, time, etc. I find it more fulfilling to pursue accuracy than to have to be right.
Thanks David. Wonderful insight.
Ask more than tell… leave spaces for response…
I talk to much and don’t listen enough. Want to do better at that this year.
Thanks for the list!
Thanks Paul. For many of us, learning to listen is a life-long journey. Best to you.
Me too. I sometimes find silence awkward and have to regularly challenge myself to refrain from jumping in right away, particularly if I think I ‘know the answer’…so Dan, your comment to ask ‘questions/be curious even if you think you know, pretend you don’t’ was meaningful for me. Thanks for the great post.
I think your list is good and the other qualities that have been added help to complete the list. I do however disagree with the notion of leaders being coaches with the people who report to them. Coaching is non hierarchal where the coach is not invested in the outcome, rather focuses on the process. Leaders are typically part of the hierarchy and for the most part are invested in the outcome of a conversation they have with one of the employees who reports to them. As coaches, we seek agreement with a client, a way of asking for and gaining permission to ‘coach’ them. Leaders because of the hierarchy of which they are part, may ask for agreement/permission however do not know if this agreement is given freeIy or through a sense of ‘power over’ the person. I agree that leaders need to practice the skills used in coaching, just not the process.
Great list …I am a career/life coach and driving these qualities as a coach is a must.
Thanks Kathy. The challenges of coaching a direct report are real, but not insurmountable. Of course, if coaching is limited to the definition you offer, a boss could not coach a person who reports to them.
A coach from the outside has several advantages.
Thanks for chiming in. I’ll cling to the idea that coaching style leadership is a wave of the future. I see great interest in it.
Kathy, in my workshop “Leader as Coach,” managers often bring up the concerns you express. My response (in part) is that the my goal isn’t to turn them into a coach in the pure sense. The goal is for them to learn coaching skills and to use them in their management and leadership responsibilities.
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I’m a big believer in number 4. Ask more than tell. Coaching means asking questions that help your client reflect and consider myriad possibilities. Coaches must get over any urge to “solve the problem” of their client.
Thanks Sandra. One of the great gifts of a coach is providing time for someone to reflect WHILE someone else is listening.
I love the bonus about high expectations! Well said!
Thanks Bruce. The downfall of those of us who are dedicated to developing people is we may accept progress and loosen up on high standards. I have to remind myself to raise the bar even if it hurts.
My initial thought was to send this link to my kids’ coaches but, on second thought, I’m not sure how well this would be received . . . Great guidance, but they might hear the wrong message and become concerned that I’ve sent it for the “Lousy Coach” info. ??
Guess this is just for me, to verify whether my kids are in good hands OR so I can be a good coach. 🙂
Dan, I love your point “Dedicate yourself to developing people. Great people deliver great results.” I feel that as leaders we get tied into hitting the numbers far too often and forget that it is the people who help hit the numbers. As I have focuded on developing those I am responsible for, it has been my experience that the numbers usually take care of themselves.
Bingo! Thanks for chiming in, Travis.
Thanks Dianna. “Guess this is just for me…” — priceless 🙂
Good post Dan! I would add that they believe their team members want to do a good job and facilitate an environment that grows leaders. Thanks again for such a thought provoking post!
Thanks Diana. What a difference when we start from a positive, rather than a negative, place?
That’s a fantastic list Dan. One quality I would add is that a great coach knows they’re not a great coach to everyone for various reason. If it’s a work situation, the manager needs to coach everyone on the team, but he or she can accept that the results will be greater with some than with others. Even with our continual growth as coaches, we will never be the best fit for everyone by any means.
coaching and training- are they same?
Thanks thilopian. I’d say they are related. Both are components of developing people, but not the same. Training is content or skill centered. Coaching centers on the person. Training is more about pouring content in. Coaching is pulling insight out. I’d add “generally speaking to everything I wrote. Thanks for asking.
Great post! Thank you! One of my team’s daily commitments is to have an attitude of gratitude. I’ve made it a point myself to practice this daily and the positive effects it is having so far will only keep growing. Amazing what student-athletes can take for granted when they do mot regularly apply gratitude in their lives!
Thanks for sharing! Great list of coaching qualities. I really like number 4. I will be putting the “pretend you don’t know” into practice!
Thank you for this post! I read a blog post recently from someone who came out of retirement to rejoin their profession because they were shocked at the lack of talent applying for managerial posts. Hopefully he is taking time in his re-emergent career to build capacity in his profession by being a great coach.
The have Compassion tip is so true. Leaders can get so obsessed with progress that we sometimes left it out. Thanks for sharing
Excellent standard of conversation.
An ingredient of a good coach in a world which is ambiguous, has half truths, includes imperfections and is as right as it may be wrong requires a coach who allows him/herself to embrace being a little insane. And be grateful for the opportunity to celebrate the risk and creativity in embracing insanity. A good coach doubts his/her doubts as much as allowing the coachee/s to have more potential than doubts would allow.
Great list. Thanks for sharing. I like the emphasis on the coach as one who is involved in ongoing learning and self reflection – I believe this is vital to genuine connection with our coachees.
Good post. But what really caught my eye was the exclusively Canadian TimBits jerseys on the kids in the picture…Was that purposeful?
Thanks Jeromey. I get images from morgueFile.com. No special purpose for the connection with Canada. Thanks for asking.
Well it made a connection anyway! Thanks!
i like the point 1,8 and 10.every coaches must know this.thanks for sharing.