“Is Anthony better because you were there?” My dad, General Jim Anderson, always has a way at cutting to the chase. That day was no different.
I was telling him about a coaching session I had just finished with Anthony, one of my direct reports. I felt satisfied as I walked away from Anthony.
I prepared the night before, prayed for wisdom that morning, and delivered my message right before lunch. I kept my cool when he reacted negatively. I had won that battle. But, Anthony never got better. I had lost the war.
Periodically I am sharing my un-resume with the world. Most people who speak and consult on leadership are sure to present their success’s to their clients. I’m doing something different.
My dad’s question is a simple question that goes straight to the heart of the coach. If someone is not better as a result their time with me, what was I doing there anyway?
Most of my time I spent with Anthony did nothing to make him better. He was mediocre at his job, but I did little to actually help him improve.
I was not coaching him. I was just getting my thoughts off my chest.
I failed Anthony. If I had asked myself that question every time I spoke with Anthony, would things have been different?
3 Ways To Leave Someone
One of my past bosses once said, “When I walk away from my people, I can leave them feeling motivated, frustrated, or ticked off.” He did a good job leaving us motivated.
Coaches can leave their people motivated through affirmation and a positive attitude. Too often leaders use condemnation and negativity as motivators.
Even when someone is not meeting the standards, hard conversations should include positive statements to leave that person motivated to get better.
A coach who listens first, will often get buy in even in difficult situations. Again, too many leaders come in prepared to rattle off a list of failures versus taking time to listen to the person they are coaching.
It takes more time to ask questions and listen. But, a frustrated employee is rarely a productive or motivated employee.
Even when the message is difficult, a good coach can deliver it without emotions clouding the issue. Some leaders let their own emotions get in the way of producing the desired results- change.
It comes down to discipline on the part of leader. As a leader, I must prepare my facts. I must think through the possible objections. And, I must maintain a balanced set of emotions throughout the discussion.
Are They Better Because I Was Here?
I now realize, I had the wrong goal in mind. Every leader should be asking one simple question whenever they end a conversation with a person they are responsible for leading:
Are they better as because I was here?
If the answer is No or more likely I don’t know, then I probably just wasted my time and theirs.
When a boss wastes my time, I usually end up frustrated or ticked off. What about you?
The Bottom Line:
Are they better because I was here?
This question became a guiding principle for me. If I did nothing to make that person better, then why had I been there in the first place?
As a leader, that is my job. A leader who does not make the people around them better is not an effective leader. That is why my Unresume includes my coaching of Anthony.
Leadership is about people. If I am not having a positive impact on the people I am around, I am not providing leadership.
Are they better because I was here?
Whether I am in a position of leadership or not, that is a great question all of us should be asking.
It does not matter if I am their leader or a recent acquaintance. If I always leave people better off than they were when I arrived, my impact on the world around me could be huge.
Are the people around you today better because you were there?