By Tommy Mello, owner A1 Garage Doors a $100M+ home service business. Sharing what I’ve learned to help other entrepreneurs scale.
Mention his name to others, and I bet you will get a blank stare. But if you mention any of his coachees, people will know who you’re talking about.
I’m referring to the late Bill Campbell, dubbed the “Trillion-Dollar Coach” by Google’s former chairman and CEO Eric Schmidt.
But why should you care about Bill? What can you learn from him?
Well, not only did he coach Eric Schmidt, but he was also the coach to Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, Sheryl Sandberg and many other top leaders. And Bill made a powerful point that all leaders need to hear…
“To be a great manager, you have to be a great coach.”
He’s right. Google’s study shows that coaching is the number one most important quality of great managers (having great technical skills came in last.) Research backs this up, too: coaching helps employees achieve goals and even believe in their abilities more. Here’s what Eric Schmidt said in his book:
“The primary job of a manager is to help people be more effective in their job. To help people grow and develop. It is not to provide solutions or tell team members what to do. Coaching is the primary mechanism managers use to do this.”
So how do you become a better coach for your team or employees? Let’s start with mindset.
To be a coach, you need to get into the mindset of pushing people to become their very best. You define your success by their success.
You are their best friend—you’re on their side, giving them compliments and cheering them on—but you also give them honest, constructive feedback so that they can learn from their mistakes.
Here are a few things you need to do as a coach.
1. Make sure that your team is coachable.
Before you even start coaching, your coachee needs to be a sponge. What does that mean? They need to be receptive to whatever you have to say, so they can soak it all in—and they genuinely want to! If they aren’t open to feedback, your coaching will likely just be a waste of time.
There aren’t any easy solutions, but here are two things to consider:
• Find out what motivates them. Show them how they can get what’s important to them if they improve through coaching. Make it a win-win.
• When you hire, hire a top performer, or someone who’s committed to being one. Watch how they talk about their professional and personal development. If they’re already doing tons of learning and reading, they will want feedback from you, because they know that’s what it takes to succeed.
2. Make your team practice, practice, practice.
In my youth, I was involved in gymnastics, wrestling, baseball, football and many other sports. And I saw how coaches got their teams to practice again and again. Sure, it’s a grind, but it works! Practice is how you perform like a superstar on the field and in real-life situations.
Whether your employees are superstars or not, it doesn’t matter. Just follow my 5x Practice Rule: Get them to practice five times more than they do the actual work itself. Why five times? Repetition aside, it’s really about getting your team to practice in a variety of scenarios so that they can adapt and win in any situation. Practice is what builds winners!
For example, when my salespeople come in and train, I get them to practice in front of the camera, with each other, in front of me and so on.
3. Lead by example.
Would Tom Brady—one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time—get coaching from a fellow quarterback who’s anything less than great?
Here’s my point. If you aren’t a top performer, or if you aren’t pushing yourself to be better every single day, how do you expect your coachee to trust and respect you? If you want them to follow what you say and do, prove that you’re worth listening to. This also applies to your mistakes. When you screw up, just own it. Don’t play the blame game. Learn and make it right the next time.
No matter how busy I am, I’m always working to be the best version of myself, whether it’s mind, body, spirit, work or personal. I regularly reflect on how I can improve, and I read as much as I can. (Really… if I stop learning, and don’t listen to other people’s advice, I might as well die that day!)
Manage less, coach more.
Most leaders don’t want to hear this. But I will say it anyway. (If you read my stuff long enough, you know that I don’t sugarcoat things.) Most teams don’t win because they got a bad coach. If your team isn’t performing, it’s on you. You’re accountable for your team.
It took me years to come to terms with this. But when I started being accountable for my team, and when I started supporting them to be successful, I saw a difference in my business. This year, I had eight employees who made over $1M in sales, and I’m proud of them.
So, start coaching today. Let go of the need to manage everything. Invest in your team and watch them grow!