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Learn how to be a coach to be a better manager

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By Tommy Mello, owner A1 Garage doors a company with more than $100 million in home service. Share what I’ve learned to help other entrepreneurs scale up.

Mention his name to others, and I bet you’ll get a blank stare. But if you mention one of his coachees, people will know who you are talking about.

I’m referring to the late Bill Campbell, dubbed the “Trillion-Dollar Coach” by former Google 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 also coached Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, Sheryl Sandberg, and many other top leaders. And Bill made a strong point that all leaders need to hear…

“To be a great manager, you have to be a great coach.”

He is right. Research from Google shows that coaching is the most important quality of great managers (having great technical skills came in last.) Research also supports this: coaching helps employees to achieve goals and even more to believe in their abilities. This is what Eric Schmidt said in his book

“A manager’s primary job is to help people be more effective at their jobs. To help people grow and develop. It’s not about offering solutions or telling team members what to do. Coaching is the primary mechanism that managers use for this.”

So how do you become a better coach for your team or employees? Let’s start with the mindset.

To be a coach, you have to get into the mindset of pushing people to get the best out of themselves. You define your success by their success.

You’re their best friend — you’re on their side, complimenting and encouraging them — but you also give them honest, constructive feedback so they can learn from their mistakes.

Here are a few things you should do as a coach.

1. Make sure 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 anything you have to say so they can take it all in – and they really want to! If they’re not open to feedback, your coaching will probably just be a waste of time.

There are no easy solutions, but here are two things to consider:

• Find out what motivates them. Show them how to get what matters to them as they improve through coaching. Make it a win-win.

• If you hire someone, hire a top performer, or someone who is committed to becoming one. Watch how they talk about their professional and personal development. If they’re already learning and reading a lot, they’ll want feedback from you because they know it’s necessary to succeed.

2. Let your team practice, practice, practice.

In my youth I played gymnastics, wrestling, baseball, football and many other sports. And I watched coaches get their teams practicing over and over 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.

It doesn’t matter whether your employees are superstars or not. Just follow my 5x practice rule: let them practice five times more than they do the actual work themselves. Why five times? Repetition aside, what really matters is getting your team to practice in different scenarios so they can adapt and win in any situation. Practice is what builds winners!

For example, when my salespeople come to train, I let them practice in front of the camera, with each other, for 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 is anything but great?

Here’s my point. If you are not a top performer, or if you are not pushing yourself every day to get better, how do you expect your coachee to trust and respect you? If you want them to follow what you say and do, prove you’re worth listening to. This also applies to your mistakes. If you mess up, just own it. Don’t play the blame game. Learn and make it right next time.

No matter how busy I am, I am always working to be the best version of myself be it mind, body, spirit, work or personal. I regularly think about how I can improve myself and read as much as possible. (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’ll say it anyway. (If you read my articles long enough, you’ll know I don’t cover things up.) Most teams don’t win because they have a bad coach. If your team isn’t performing, that’s on you. You are responsible for your team.

It took me years to process this. But when I started taking responsibility for my team and supporting them to be successful, I saw a difference in my business. This year, I had eight employees making over $1 million 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!

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