Great Coaching is About Attitude – Not Aptitude

Do you have what it takes to be a successful coach?

What do successful managers, supervisors, and coaches all have in common? The answer; they all have the ability to teach someone else what they know. Just because people are good at what they do – doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be good at doing something else. History reminds us that the best athletes don’t always make the best coaches. And the same holds true for everyone else.

What does it take to be a successful coach?

If you had to compile a list of the top ten key characteristics or traits you believe a coach needs to be successful, what would you put on that list? Think about it for a moment before you compile that list. Then, once you have that list, rank them one through ten in importance – one being the most important down to ten being the least important. (I know they are all important or you wouldn’t have put them on your list. But, if you really think about it, some are going to carry more weight than others.)

Organizations believe that soft-skills are now more important than technical ability

After you have ranked your list, determine how many of those key characteristics or traits were technically based – such as knowledge, experience, or common sense – And how many had more to do with interpersonal skills – such as communication, listening, or the ability to motivate people. Results of a recent study conducted by the HayGroup, a leading authority on emotional intelligence (EQ), shows that for most jobs that involve working with people, EQ is twice as important as IQ plus technical skills. Sixty-Seven percent of the competencies needed to manage or lead people effectively are emotionally based. If you ranked EQ skills (commonly known as soft-skills) higher than technical skills on your list you are in step with the realities of managing in the 21st. Century.

Successful coaches are not born – they are made

Now, take one more look at your list. Go down your list and place a “B” beside the traits that you believe you must be born with or an “L” beside the ones that you believe can be learned. Did you have more “B’s” then “L’s” or more “L’s” then “B’s”? If you ended up with more “L’s” then “B’s” congratulations. Contrary to popular belief, successful coaches are not born; they’re made. And they are made via their willingness to learn.

With a can-do attitude you can learn to do almost anything

Which skills will you need to learn to become a better coach? Do you need to learn to be more patient, more open-minded or empathetic? Adults can learn new things. All you need to do is stop doing one thing and start doing another. And the more that you do them, the more they will become you. You can learn to be more patient. You can learn to be a better listener. You can learn to be more open-minded and empathetic. You can learn to become a better coach. (Good habits = good results)

Successful coaching – like successful managing – has more to do with your willingness to change your style of coaching to be more “in-tune” with the person you are working with. You don’t have to be the smartest person in the room to be the most successful coach in the room. Great coaching is about attitude – not aptitude

If You’re Not PLOCing – You’re Not Managing

Chickens do it and managers need to do it to. Managers need to learn how to PLOC. If you’re not PLOCing you’re not managing. You’re just wishing and hoping things will turn out all right. When it comes to managing individuals or directing an organization or department you can’t leave anything to chance.

To be a good PLOCer managers need to do three things very well. Managers need to be able to communicate, educate and delegate effectively and efficiently. You can be effective and not efficient. And efficient and not effective. You can be effective in getting the job done. But, not efficient because it took you to long to complete it. You can be efficient because you got the job done ahead of schedule. But, not effective because you had to redo it a second time because it wasn’t done satisfactorily the first time. It takes a good PLOCer to be both an effective and efficient manager.

Managers need to be able to:

Plan: You need to be very clear on what you want to accomplish and then put a plan together that will accomplish that goal. Keep in mind that there is no such thing as a perfect plan. Don’t wait for perfect. You can fine tune your plan as you go along if you aren’t getting the desired results. The important thing here is to start working your plan.

Lead: You need to be able to lead by example. Your team is looking to you for direction. You set the pace. You set the tone. And you don’t do that sitting in your corner office. It’s more important to be seen then heard. Manage by walking around. Be prepared to roll-up your sleeves when the situation warrants it.

Organize: Productivity is still the name of the game. You need to ensure that you are getting a significant return on your most valuable resource – Your time and your team’s time. Start off each day knowing what needs to be accomplished today. Who is going to do it, what the end result will look like and how long it’s going to take to complete it.

Control: People do what you inspect not what you expect. Your job as a manager is to monitor your team’s performance and remove any obstacles that are getting in their way. You can control the outcome by making sure everyone knows what is expected of them – and that they have all the tools they’ll need to do the job or complete the task.

Remember to Communicate often. Let your people know how they are doing – good or bad. Educate them by making sure they know how to complete the task – and Delegate the responsibility to those who are capable of completing the tasks – And then get out of their way and let them do it. (Resist the urge to Micro-Manage)

PLOCing may be for the birds – But it’s good for managers too.

Brian Smith, Professional Speaker, Corporate Trainer and Management Consultant is considered by many to be a leading authority on soft-skills training and leadership development. He can be reached at

Confessions of a Reformed Control Freak – Part II 1

This is the second part of a two-part posting taken from excerpts of my soon-to-be-published book, “Confessions of a Reformed Control Freak – The Top Ten Sins Most Managers Make & How to Avoid Them”. I wrote this book with the hope that first-time managers would gain some valuable insights into what it takes to be an effective manager managing in the 21st. Century. Daniel Goleman, in his ground breaking book, “Working with Emotional Intelligence” said it best:training and e“We are being judged by a new yardstick: Not just how smart we are, or by our training and expertise, but also by how well we handle ourselves and each other“. You aren’t born knowing how to manage people effectively. We all start out making certain assumptions based on our own perceptions of what a manager should be. But our perceptions can be wrong. I hope you are able to learn from my sins. And trust me – in my 40 + year career as an award winning entrepreneur and general manager for one of Canada’s best run and most profitable companies I’ve made my fair share.

Confession Six: “Park your ego at the door, it’s not about being right”. If you need to prove that you’re always right, and they’re wrong – then you need to pick a different career. You and I both know that there is more then one way to accomplish the same thing. The more you allow other people to be involved in the process the more likely they will “buy-in” to the end result. Remember – Together – Everyone – Accomplishes – More.

Confession Seven: “You can’t control everything all of the time”. You must give up control to get control. (Delegate, delegate, delegate) You can’t control everything all of the time because it’s bigger then you are. Your role as a manager is to give your people the tools they’ll need to be successful and then get out of their way and let them do it. You need to trust your people that they can do the job that you’ve hired them to do. Resist the urge to micro-manage.

Confession Eight: “You can’t demand respect. Respect is reciprocal”. If you study Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs” theory you’ll discover that one of the basic needs all humans have – is the need to be acknowledged – the need to be recognized. By treating people respectfully, you are saying you value them as a person. Remember, you get what you give. If you show respect – you’ll get respect in return. But, you have to give it first if you ever expect to get it back.

Confession Nine: “People hear what they see, not what you say”. Your people play follow-their-leader. You must lead by setting the right example. You communicate 97% of the time, not by what you say, but by how you go about it. People believe the non-verbal communication as being more accurate. Your thoughts and actions must appear as one – they must be congruent. Do and say what you mean.

Confession Ten: “There aren’t any negatives – everything is positive”. How you react to any given situation is a choice that only you get to make 100% of the time. Your attitude isn’t just something – it’s everything! Your staff will take their direction from you. You must react in a way that is going to get you what you want. A positive attitude is contagious.

About The Author: Brian Smith, professional speaker, corporate trainer and management consultant is considered by many to be a leading authority on soft-skills training and leadership development. To find out more about Brian and what he can do for you and your organization visit To receive a free poster of “Confessions of a Reformed Control Freak – The Top Ten Sins Most Managers Make & How to Avoid Them” send an email to – be sure to put “Poster” in the subject line. Remember – Training doesn’t have to be expensive to be good – it just has to be the right kind of training.

The Top Ten Sins Most Managers Make & How to Avoid Them

Yes I admit it. I was once a control freak. I was a Micro-Manager! “Confessions of a Reformed Control Freak – The Top Ten Sins Most Managers Make & How to Avoid Them” (The title of my soon to be published book) is the first of a two-part series designed to help managers gain some valuable insight into what it takes to be an effective 21st. Century Manager. You aren’t born knowing how to manage people. We all start out making certain assumptions based on our own perceptions. And we know our perceptions can be wrong. The truth is that if I knew then what I know now, there is no question I would have managed differently. I hope you will be able to learn from my sins. And trust me – in my 40+ year career as an award winning entrepreneur and general manager for one of Canada’s most successful and profitable companies I’ve committed my fair share.

Confession One: “There is no such thing as common sense”. Common sense is a learned behavior based on your own life experiences and shaped by the people you meet, the books you read and the things you see and do. If you haven’t been taught how to do a task properly then how are you ever supposed to know? People don’t learn it by osmoses. The only way to change a “Can’t” into a “Can” is to train the “T” away.

Confession Two: “You can’t motivate people” People can only motivate themselves based on their WIIFM’s (What’s in it for me) not yours. People need to be convinced that it’s worth the effort, then and only then, will people be motivated enough to help themselves. The secret to managing people is finding out what their WIIFM is. And once you know that – you can use that understanding to get them to do what you need done. (They get theirs – and you get yours. It’s a win-win situation)

Confession Three: “You ruin good people by promoting them.” We tend to promote our super stars based on their past performances. Not everyone has what it takes to be a good team leader, supervisor or manager. Promoting people into areas where their abilities and aptitudes are less suited for the job may render the individual ineffective. Success as a manager is based on your people skills not your technical ability. If you can’t teach someone what you know that you aren’t doing your job as a manager.

Confession Four: “You don’t have to know everything.” Albert Einstein said it best. “You don’t have to know everything – You just need to know where to go to look it up.” Admit when you don’t know something. Don’t manage by smoke and mirrors. Tell them you don’t know but assure them you’ll get back to them with the correct answer. (If they can’t trust what you say then they won’t trust you at all.) You don’t have to make up the answers as you go along.

Confessions Five: “You are not the most important person in the conversation” If you can’t deliver the message so it is received the way it was intended; then what ever you said means absolutely nothing. The essence of communication is the sharing of thoughts and ideas. If the receiver doesn’t “get it” then the sender is the one who really doesn’t “get it”. We tend to blame the other person for the breakdown in communication. Effective communication takes two.

(This is the first of a two-part series. I will post confessions six to ten next posting. To receive a free “Confessions Poster” showing all ten confessions send me an email to: – Be sure to write “Confessions Poster” in the subject line)