Leaders Are Coaches

Imagine you’re looking at yourself in the mirror and you tell yourself that you’re driven enough to lead a ragtag group of individuals to become the next Google.

You’ve heard the old adage:

Leaders are born, not made.

But you’re not going to let this stop you. Instead you look for more inspiration, and you come across various quotes from great coaches like Vince Lombardi.

Leaders are made, not born.

In fact, you know deep down in your heart that you have what it takes to lead. You have everything in your swiss-army knife of skills to mold a group of misfits into a community, and you can work with each individual to nurture and align to a common vision and set of goals.

Leadership is a one-way street. Your people will make you a leader. They get to acclaim that, not you.

To get more accustomed with leadership, you must first know some tendencies that make great leaders.

Leadership Tendencies

  • The top priority of any leader is the well-being and success of their people.
  • To build rapport and better relationships among team members, start meetings with more personal topics to get to know everyone.
  • Have a structure for 1:1s and take the time to prepare for them, as they are the best way to help people be more effective and grow.
  • Your job is to run a decision-making process that ensures all perspectives get heard and considered, and, if necessary, to break ties and make a decision.
  • Define a set of principles that are immutable truths that are the foundation to help guide decisions.
  • High-performing but difficult team members should be tolerated and even protected as long as their behavior isn’t unethical or abusive so long their value outweighs the toll their behavior has on people.
  • Compensating people well demonstrates love and respect and ties people strongly to the goals and vision.
  • The purpose is to bring a product vision to life. All other components are in service to the product.
  • If you have to let people go, be generous, treat them well, and celebrate their accomplishments.
  • Look for traits that make a person coachable such as honesty, humility, the willingness to persevere and work hard, with a constant openness to learning.
  • Listen to people with your full and undivided attention. Don’t think ahead to what you’re going to say next, instead ask questions to get to the real issue.
  • Be relentlessly honest and candid. Couple negative feedback with caring, and give feedback as soon as possible. If the feedback is negative, deliver it privately.
  • Don’t tell people what to do; offer stories and help guide them to the best decisions for them.
  • Believe in people more than they believe in themselves, and push them to be more courageous.
  • People are most effective when they can be themselves and bring their full identity to work.
  • When faced with a problem or opportunity, the first step is to ensure the right team is in place and working on it.
  • Look for smarts and hearts; the ability to learn fast, a willingness to work hard, integrity, grit, empathy, and a team-first attitude.
  • Pair people to establish peer relationships on problems, projects, and decisions.
  • To win, you need the best team, and the best teams are diverse and inclusive.
  • Identify the biggest problem, the elephant in the room, and bring it front and center to tackle first.
  • Air all the negative issues, but don’t dwell on them. Move on as fast as possible.
  • Strive to win, but always win right, with commitment, teamwork, and integrity.
  • When things are going bad, people are looking for even more loyalty, commitment, and decisiveness from their leaders.
  • Listen, observe, and fill the communication and understanding gaps between people.
  • Leading people becomes a lot more joyful, and the people more effective, when you know and care about the people.
  • Care about people by asking about their lives outside of work, understand their families, and when things get rough, show up.
  • Cheer demonstrably for people and their successes.
  • Build communities inside and outside of work. People are stronger when connected.
  • Be generous with your time, connections, and other resources.
  • Keep a special place in your heart for people who have defeated the odds with their vision and passion.
  • Loving people in the workplace is challenging, so practice it until it becomes natural.
  • Whatever you get involved with, have accountability and consequence. Drive it.
  • Surround yourself with people who have vitality. Engage with them.
  • Figure out what you’re uniquely good at, what sets you apart. Understand the things inside you that gives you a sense of purpose. Now apply them.
  • Most of the turning points in life cannot be predicted or controlled. Allow fate to play a role.

Can you remember back to a point in your life when you had a coach, teacher, or somebody who really cared about you? You know, to the point where they would put off whatever commitment they had that day to help you learn? Or how they would show you in various ways that they honestly cared about your life by asking about your hobbies, family, and more?

They showed many of these tendencies, and you felt like you belonged. They showed you humility, empathy, and love. They showed you exactly what it is to have an impact on a life. They showed you what a true leader is.