It has been said the fish discover water last and humans discover coaching last.
In "The Hands-Off Manager," the authors discuss how the hands-off manager as coach allows for success in the book's last chapter. Morale in the workplace is the creation of the leader. He or she coaches it into existence. Or doesn't. But morale is not just an accidental climate that comes in on the wind.
Every person on the planet today who has transformed from the low, suicidal life of addiction to a new life of spirit, service and health has more than "changed." They have become someone else. They have become their potential. And, in most cases, they have been coached.
Sometimes coaching takes on the form of parenting. Sometimes it shows up as 12-step sponsorship, and sometimes it is just sharing an idea with a friend. But one thing is certain: people can change--and coaching can accelerate that change.
The word "coaching" comes from the world of sports. A world of performance and numbers. Therefore, sports provides a perfect metaphor for what good coaching is in an organization. The first thing a masterful coach does is decrease the fearful emotional charge inside the person being coached. As the great football coach Vince Lombardi said, "It's hard to be aggressive when you're confused." So, if you're coaching me, you first bring our positive attention to my situation. Soon my negative feelings start to lift.
When you are a positive leader with positive thoughts about the future and the people you lead, you add something to every person you talk to. Because positive always adds to (increases, improves) something. And so, the first thing a coaching conversation does is change the math. It alters the charge in the mind of the person being coached from negative to positive. That alone makes coaching immediately valuable.
Coaching helps bring a person "into alignment" with their true talent. It increases productivity; hard numbers and profitability are affected. Under the supervision of a hands-off manager, the mind grows stronger, more imaginative, and more excited about doing great work.
A lot of people think that coaching means giving advice; that you give advice in kind of a nice way so that you're giving advice but you can call it "coaching." That's not really coaching. That's consulting; simply giving advice.
Download and listen to this MP3 recording of a recent interview of Coach Agno for the answer to that question.
Coaching is all about allowing what's possible to emerge. It's moving a person out of being stuck in a mindset where they think they are limited. The coach maintains what the Zen masters call a "beginner's mind" in which nothing is impossible.
Lasting behavioral change is always the ironic specialty of the hands-off manager. By not micromanaging, more things change. By keeping your hands off the process, the process improves more quickly.
Would you pull a flower up from the ground with your hands to help it grow? Why try to do similar things to an employee?