Executives and athletic coaches are alike in a lot of ways, but the most outstanding common trait they share is their ability to LEAD.

There are a variety of different leadership approaches and countless situations and contexts that reinforce the need for a broad range of leadership styles. In my role, I coach and help executives and athletic coaches foster their professional development and make them the real protagonists of their accomplishments.

My work with executives and athletic coaches to bolster their professional development is relatively easy when I compare it to the job they do managing the members of their teams.

In practice, the main difference with my role as their coach is that both executives and athletic coaches have to lead and instruct. It’s an important facet of leadership, but it’s not the only one.

They also can coach and develop their collaborators as Leader-coaches.

Their leadership is greatly enhanced when they integrate a “coaching” competence. Personally, what I like the most about coaching are the possibilities it offers leaders to develop others. It allows them to lead and break away from the common “order and obedience” undercurrent that’s so palpable in many organizations and teams.

In the day-to-day reality of many of these teams, it seems as though absolutely everything needs to come from the leader. If something doesn’t work, the leader should think about it and find a solution. If a new project or challenge arises, the leader has to decide what each team member should do.

In this scenario, we’ll have a team (the others!) on one hand, which will obediently observe and execute the steps that have been conveyed/ordered. On the other hand, we’ll have a leader who always has to know everything.

This is a harsh reality for everyone involved! But they’ll continue functioning like this, even achieving results and big wins.

In these situations, a “relationship of conveniences” tends to emerge and perpetuate itself. Time goes by, as leaders with their teams and teams with their leaders stuck this same dynamic.

Falling into this dynamic leads to a high price to pay for everyone:

  • Burnt out executives and coaches  
  • Unmotivated and uncommitted teams

So now what?

The most important step for leaders is to ACCEPT and create space for their own sense of “not knowing”. Only from this state will they be able to ASK their team. Leader-coaches stand out in a number of ways:

  • Leaders who listen and ask before they speak.
  • Leaders who engage those around them.
  • Leaders who trust others and have faith in their abilities.

By fostering a climate of trust, leader-coaches build teams that reap the benefits of each point mentioned above:

  • Teams that can talk and contribute.
  • Teams that are committed.
  • Teams that trust.

In your day-to-day with your team…, Do you command more than you inquire?