Picture this. Star quarterback, Drew Brees, tackling Darren Sproles, his own running back, in the open field during practice. The team leader attacks a team member – and one of his best players. Imagine the scrutiny that would follow such an action.
Head Coach Sean Payton would more than likely bench his quarterback for showing such poor judgment. It wouldn’t matter what Drew Brees would offer as a reason, a leader should never attack his own teammate.
It is Hard to Believe this Kind of Thing Happening in Football, right?
Unfortunately, when it comes to corporations, supervisors feel authorized to attack their staff all too often. Not physically but verbally. I remember early in my career, our Senior VP would often belittle us publicly during our staff meetings. One time he actually told a Director that he didn’t care about what the Director had to say. When the Director reacted to the VP’s remark, the VP ordered him to leave the meeting.
Ironically, our Senior VP would often say things like, “I really care about my people” and “I play to the strengths of my team”. I was very young back then and often felt like speaking my mind when I heard him say these things.
But the culture in the organization was one of fear. We all knew that saying anything would have severely damaged any chance of advancing in the organization. The result was we started treating each other and our staff the same way our Senior VP treated us. I think this VP should have been benched!!!
Is this story hard to believe?
I am guessing your answer is no. Actually, you are probably thinking about similar scenarios that you have witnessed, or even worse, something like this may have happened to you.
So Why Are These Scenarios So Different?
Let’s dig into this a bit more. How many coaches are there on a football team? A bunch, right? Head Coach, Offensive & Defensive Coordinators, Quarterback Coach, Running Back coach, the list goes on and on…
Why do sports teams hire coaches? To help their teams win!
Would any team owner invest millions of dollars in their players without the best coaches to help them be their best? Absolutely NO! On the contrary, team owners want the best coaches they can find. They know that good coaching is key to having a successful team.
Conflict does happen in sports, and, yes, conflict happens with coaches as well. However, any good coach knows that in order to have a chance to win, a team must work together. Conflict is addressed and dealt with ASAP. In addition, good coaches help their players maximize their own strengths and leverage the strengths of others in the team.
How Many Coaches Do You See in Organizations?
Chances are, not too many. Aren’t businesses in competition? Of course they are! Don’t they need to maximize the performance of every employee? Of course they do. However, coaching is not common in organizations. This seems a little crazy to me, especially when we consider recent data on employee engagement.
Deloitte surveys show that only 20% of people are truly passionate about their work. Gallup surveys show the vast majority of workers are disengaged, with an estimated 23 million “actively disengaged.” The cost to the U.S. economy has been pegged at over $300 billion annually.
A True Story
During a leadership session I facilitated with a group of college seniors, one of the students brought up the recruitment process he was going through at the time, with some of the leading financial firms in New York City. He explained that during the interviews, recruiters asked all kinds of leadership questions. Among others, he mentioned questions like, “tell me an example of a situation when you had to handle conflict”? Or, “what does embodying leadership mean to you”?
I thought this was interesting, because, once they are hired, chances are they will be left on their own to figure things out in already established organizational cultures. In many cases, as it was in my case, young employees will pick up terrible leadership habits from bosses who learned inferior leadership skills from their previous supervisors.
Stop the Cycle of Ineffective Leadership
Why should young leaders lead differently when most of their managers have gotten rewarded by leading with tactics such as fear and intimidation?
Sadly, there may be no coaches to show the next generations of leaders how to avoid bad and costly leadership habits. There won’t be a “leadership coordinator “ helping new supervisors and their staff develop the leadership skills required to lead in the future. This cycle has gone on for decades and it needs to stop. The next generation workforce needs to be engaged and motivated by superior leaders.
Our economy can’t afford wasting $300 billion a year because of disengaged employees! Coaching is needed in corporations just as much, if not more, than in sports.
If you are thinking about adding coaches to your team, here are a few outstanding coaches and leadership consultants that can make a big difference in your organization:
- Anne Egros, Global Executive Coach At Zest and Zen International
- LaRae Quy, Empower the Leader in You
- Dr. Mary Kay Whitaker, AboutLeaders.com
In conclusion, here are a few questions to think about regarding coaching in corporations, or the lack thereof. I hope you find this article thought provoking and helpful.
- Why do you think coaching is not common in corporations?
- Do you think supervisors are always able to teach good leadership skills to their employees?
- Have you had a supervisor that inspired you through superior leadership skills? If so, what did he or she do and are you passing that on?
- Should we consider investing in leadership coaching for supervisors and staff?
How Can You Handle Conflict With a Team Member?
If you have ideas that you feel like sharing that might be helpful to readers, share them in the comments section below. Thanks!
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vince p mayne
Not only are there very few people dedicated to coaching in large companies, I see very few coachable candidates.
I work in IT Outsourcing and as a result have worked inside the largest global companies including pharma, consumer goods, telco’s, mining, financial services, high technology, etc in the USA and Europe.
Almost without exception, the highest paid IT workers exist in companies that do not have young college graduates, but rather seasoned IT workers. Not only is there no coachable candidates, the seasoned IT people have a code of conduct aimed at nothing new on my watch. The coachable new candidates exist in countries such as India. The seasoned IT workers complain frequently that there is little alignment with the company’s lines of business and IT is failing due to the lack of IT Leadership.
It is an interesting example of some large USA companies failing to manage the service delivery model they have chosen to maintain. It also a great example of how poorly corporate America manages IT governance.
Thanks for the comment, I have worked in IT and Entertainment and totally agree with the previous comment.
I find that working with college students on developing leadership skills before they develop bad habits is very important.
Thanks for the article. Many organizations are struggling with a leadership gap. Unfortunately, this gap is a self-inflicted wound when the training and development budget and staff would be cut at the first sign of economic stress. Internal coaches are a minimum requirement, and the organizations that have them are stronger and more effective. More effective, in my opinion, are external coaches who do not have to worry about political risk as they provide candid feedback or work through difficult conversations with their client.
We are beginning to see more coaches being hired, even by individuals who understand the importance this has for their career (and personal) development.
Stephen, I am so happy to learn more coaches are being hired and totally agree with your opinion about external coaches being more effective because of the political risks involved in helping others improve the quality of their leadership.
Thanks so much for your comment!