Tuesday, December 10, 2013

How to be a Great Coach - Lessons from Leadership Academy

By Samantha Sieloff, Second-year MBA, Marketing

Great coaching is about GROWing your employees or coachees. When working with someone you are developing, consider the following:
G – Develop Goals for that person with his or her involvement
R – Base those goals on the Reality of where that person is starting from
O – Explore Options to meet those goals, both in a long term and short term scope
W – Establish what the employee/mentee Will do. What Will you do? Hold each other accountable.

This framework came from Val Grubb, a larger than life personality that the second-year MBAs in the Leadership Academy were lucky enough to interact with a few weeks ago. Val cuts through fluffy pleasantries with an ax and reels you in with her confident, powerful demeanor. In a booming voice she briefly described some of her past experiences including:

  • Having 10,000 individuals reporting to her at one time at Interactive Corp
  • Working for 3 years for one of the wealthiest and toughest CEOs in existence, (Barry Diller of Interactive Corp)
  • Working with Oprah Winfrey to form the Oxygen Network before negotiating the sale of it to NBC
  • Working with GE/NBC during the Beijing Olympic Games and handling the acquisition of the Weather Channel
  • Starting her own consulting agency where she now improves back office operations for many top companies
Val detailed the difference between coaching colleagues and coaching direct reports. With colleagues, the foundation for great coaching is listening and motivating the person to think for themselves. With direct reports, great coaching is rooted in setting clear goals and effectively communicating those goals. She cautioned that this is not always as easy as it sounds; we often think we have communicated clearly, when in reality the message was never fully understood on the employee’s end rendering it useless.

In the end, the decision to remove any future options is 100% in the hands of the employee. A good coach asks open-ended questions that coax the individual to make the decision by themselves. For example: “What do you want your life to look like?”, “How important is money versus passion?”, “Do you know what being a CEO looks like in terms of skill sets and lifestyle?” 

Val then stressed the golden rule of coaching – always listen more than you talk.

This was an amazing presentation and I am so glad I was able to be a part of the Leadership Academy at Kelley where we are groomed to effectively lead organizations and develop employees. Learning from titans like Val, and getting a chance to practice each day with our first-year mentees is a great developmental tool that I have thoroughly enjoyed in my Kelley experience.   


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