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Bossing vs. Coaching... Where's the Bench?

One of the greatest challenges facing a Leader is the shift between thinking of yourself as the star player who takes center-field...

... to thinking of yourself as the coach who stands behind the bench filled with high-performance athletes.

Former Calgary Flames Coach Bob Hartley
On June 24, 2015, Hartley won the Jack Adams Award as the NHL's coach of the year. He was the first coach in Flames franchise history to win the award.

The coach doesn’t get onto the ice and play the puck for them,

or get onto the field and block the tackles for them,

or run onto the court and move players about.

In fact:

A team is heavily penalized when a coach tries to play the game with the players!

The coach is the last person you want making those small decisions (shoot or pass)...

The coach’s job is just the opposite!

To train the team so that they can make the best decisions possible while they are in the heat of the moment.

By doing this, you'll develop a team that knows how to:

  • Make better decisions

  • Solve problems that are holding them back

  • Learn new skills, and

  • Progress their careers

The more effectively the coach coaches, the less he or she has to do at the micro level, and the more time the coach can spend on strategy and performance-related issues.

Some people are fortunate enough to get formal training in coaching.

Their company invests heavily in training its managers and has offered some support in learning the art of coaching.

But many individuals work at companies that either can’t afford such manager training or don't see the value in it.

In working with numerous blue-chip organizations in the public, private and non-profit sectors I have found that managers are usually promoted into their positions because they have the requisite technical experience or proficiency.

They’ve been there long enough to know how the equipment or processes work.

As far as the hiring process is concerned, if these individuals have well-developed people skills then it's a bonus rather than a requirement.

Having the necessary job experience or knowledge doesn't necessarily equate to strong coaching or leadership skills...

It doesn't necessarily follow that if we know the equipment or processes inside out that we intuitively know how to coach individuals who are struggling so they can transform themselves into high performers.

It seems common sense when you see it in writing, but in practice far too many managers are left to learn leadership on their own.

Many have to develop this important skill through trial and error or by following their instincts.

As good as these instincts may be, we all know that quality coaches produce winning teams, so it's worth investing and learning solid coaching principles to help you.

One such model I've used with many clients of mine is a simple yet effective framework I call the C.O.A.C.H. model.

The C.O.A.C.H. Model For Leading Teams

In the model we propose to you, C.O.A.C.H. stands for five different stages.


You must first describe the CURRENT situation.

Do you know what hats your team member's are wearing?

Without a clear picture of where you're starting, it's difficult to lead your team anywhere specific because you don't know which way to go!


Another great term to use here might be goal setting...

After all, if you don't know what OUTCOME you desire, it's pretty hard to give your team any clear direction.

For sporting teams the desired outcome may seem simple.

Win games by putting points on a score board!

For your organization, wins may be defined a little differently, but it's important to take the time to clearly identify "What does a win mean for us?"


Please notice that we're not actually at the action phase yet.