Coaching as a Contact Sport
by Georgia Kartsanis
How are your New Year’s career resolutions coming?
By this point in time, most of you must have given up on them. The reason is that you are back to your daily routine and it’s difficult to create an environment (and routines) that supports the achievement of your career and leadership development goals.
Historically, a great deal of leadership development has focused on the importance of an event. This event could be a training program, a motivational speech, or an offsite executive meeting. In my experience, real leadership development involves a process that occurs over time, not an inspiration or transformation that occurs in a meeting.
Physical exercise provides a useful analogy. Imagine having out-of-shape people sit in a room and listen to a speech on the importance of exercising, then watch some tapes on how to exercise, and perhaps practice exercising. Would you ever wonder why these people were still unfit a year later? The source of physical fitness is not understanding the theory of working out; it is engaging in exercise. As Arnold Schwarzenegger has said, “Nobody ever got muscles by watching me workout!” So, too, with leadership development.
Indeed, the executive coach is, in many ways, like a personal trainer. The trainer’s role is to “remind” the person being trained to do what he or she knows should be done. Good personal trainers spend far more time on execution than on theory. The same seems to be true for leadership development. Most leaders already know what to do. They have read the same books and listened to the same gurus giving the same speeches. But my core conclusion from my experience is that: For most leaders, the great challenge is not understanding the practice of leadership:
It is practicing their understanding of leadership.
I always tell my clients: Coaching is not a pill – you swallow it and you become better. But rather, coaching is a contact sport where you work closely with your coach to define your goals and train hard with him/her to help you create optimal routines to support you and your goal with powerful tracking and accountability.
So, if you consider yourself as a great leader-athlete, you deserve the best coach-trainer to play a bigger game and realize your New Year’s resolutions!