This article is part one of a five part series about coaching. Each part explores a different element of what it takes to be an effective coach. Learn how to empower your team to help them accomplish more than they ever imagined. If you master these skills, you can consistently build outstanding teams that provide top medical care and extraordinary client service. Get ready to establish your practice as THE only place to go in town. Not by your prices or equipment, but by how well you coach your team.
The Definition of Coaching
The word “coach” originated from a Hungarian village where early vehicles of transport were built. The village was called Kocs (pronounced kotch). Eventually, these horse drawn wagons become known as coaches, as in stagecoach, and later, motor coach. The word was built around the concept of getting a person from one place to another.
Nowadays, we use the word to represent helping others make a journey in their abilities instead of a physical relocation. However, much of what a good coach does is still connected to that original definition. One of the keys of great coaching is never losing sight of the fact that your purpose is to help your team members achieve their own goals. The operative words here are “their own goals”.
Too often coaching has become something we do to someone to get the results we want. When we operate that way, we aren’t coaching. We are telling or manipulating. If we look, we can usually find a significant amount of overlap between the goals others have for themselves and the things that the practice needs them to excel in. Working in this area helps everyone win. But make no mistake; if we try to reach our own goals, or even the practice’s goals, but not the individual’s goals, we are not coaching that person.
Trust Is a Coach’s Best Friend (Not a Whistle)
I often ask practice owners or managers to tell me the goals of the individuals on their team. It’s rare that they can accurately answer the question. Therefore, if you don’t know what someone’s goals are, then you can’t coach them effectively. What we usually do, if we haven’t taken time to find out their goals, is just assume we know what they want, or worse, substitute our own goals.
That’s not an effective way to go.
Instead, approach coaching conversations with a desire to help others achieve more of what they want. When you do this, you build a relationship that gives you permission to coach others. And, you develop the one thing that any incredible coach needs to be successful in a coaching relationship – trust.
I’m amazed at the lengths people will go to develop themselves under a coach they trust. Once your team members know that you are there to help them accomplish more of what they want, they willingly enter the coaching process with the intent to work harder, listen and learn.
Building a Successful Practice
Steve Jamison, who has co-authored five books with legendary coach John Wooden, demonstrated the importance of trust in an interview about working with Wooden:
“One of Coach’s first players, from his first high school team in 1932, contacted him while we were working on a book. He hadn’t much longer to live, and wanted to talk to Coach. After they had spoken, I asked the player quickly, “How’d it go?” He replied, “Coach Wooden really cared about us boys on the team, and made us practice extra because of it.”
Wooden used this approach to win a record 10 national titles as the coach of UCLA’s basketball team. Any time I have studied leaders who are achieve consistent, outstanding results and build high performing teams, I find they use this approach as well.
Others will go the extra mile for us, and for themselves, when they know we are genuinely interested in helping them achieve more. Investing in the success of your team members is a key ingredient to building an incredible practice. Without it, we can never become a coach that can take people where they want to go. And, after all, that’s what the word actually means.