I wanted to summarize and share the key insights from The Coach, Creating Partnerships for Competitive Edge by Steven Sowell and Matt Starcevich. Rich with useful, psychological insight into how to genuinely improve relationships between leaders and employees in service of organizational advantage and excellence, I highly recommend reading this evidence-based book and putting it into daily practice.

8 Step Coaching Model

  1. Be Supportive … assist, empathize, help, understand, listen, encourage, be flexible, recognize, and be responsible for your actions and words.
  2. Define the Topic and Needs … focus on present, 1–2 items/session, do not start with accusations or threats, give employee time to react/vent, state your concerns in specific, non-hostile manner, avoid innuendo, put-downs, or biased hints, use wide questions to funnel in that avoid Y/N answers, probe for employee suggestions, summarize and check for accurate understanding, gather data from employee, restate your information/interpretation/expectation, and deal with one thing at a time.
  3. Establish Impact … talk costs and benefits, mirror as role model and start by asking questions.
  4. Initiate a Plan … who, what, when, where; set SMART goals
  5. Get a Commitment … get a clear answer and verbal/written agreement
  6. Confront Excuses and Resistance … focus on what can be done, be positive, make contingency plans, and anticipate obstacles.
  7. Clarify Consequences, do not Punish … focus on positive (+), explain negative (-)
  8. Do not Give Up … persist with courage and patience, schedule follow up time/place
5 Levels of Coaching

Management Models

  • Adversarial / Hierarchy — traditional, Tayloristic view, control, closed
  • Patriarchy / Matriarchy — ineffective
  • Silence — ineffective
  • Entrepreneurial — building effective partnerships, open

Definition of Coach/Player Partnership

  • Teamwork
  • Common interests and goals
  • Equal status
  • Mutual consent
  • Respect
  • Honesty

Process of Guided Change

  1. Preliminary Events … detect, pinch + pressure, decide
  2. Support-Initiate using 8 Step Model
  3. Follow Up Coaching … refine + reinforce, feedback + support

Supporting Skills

  • Be forward-looking … focus on improving future, not pathology about past
  • Give employees credit for recognizing the problem and designing a solution.
  • Start light, indirect in communication style (ask questions, listen, probe, restate, encourage); then and only then get directions if needed.
  • Focus on the concern or problem … not the person.
  • Set clear expectations (RRE = Role, Responsibilities, and Expectations).
  • Shift to silence when done speaking to put ball in employee court.

How to Better Coach

  • Be assertive.
  • Be realistic.
  • Trust the process.
  • Be a catalyst and conductor… not a commander.
  • Trust employees more.
  • Give them more responsibility and variety.
  • Defer to them more.
  • Surrender more control to them as mutual business partners.
  • Allow them space and creativity.

My Sports Role Models

  • John Wooden — UCLA College basketball coach
  • Phil Jackson — Chicago Bulls basketball coach; check out his book Spiritual Lessons of a Hardcourt Warrior.
  • Barbara Bramblett — my tennis coach