Coaching is Not a Cuss Word

Words mean things. That’s why we use them. And perhaps that’s why sometimes it can be pretty frustrating when words’ meanings are hijacked and abused. That’s what’s happened to that ominous word “coaching” in some circles.

Why does coaching continue to have such negative connotations in so many places? Many times “You’ve got a coaching opportunity with that employee” actually means “That employee is doing something that needs corrected.”

That just stinks.

While coaching can mean that, what about all the positive ways the word can and should be used? As leaders, we should be coaching all the time. We should coach when folks do well, and we should coach when they don’t. We should coach formally, and we should coach informally. Coaching is such a critical tool for driving and sustaining high performance, and yet in many organizations all a manager has to do is mumble something about “I just don’t have the time to coach,” and they’re magically excused from this critical leadership responsibility.  We’ve got to stop enabling this attitude, both in ourselves and others.

Want high-performing employees? Coach them. Want engaged employees? Coach them. Want a healthy organizational culture? Coaching has to be the norm. Want people to be inspired to push themselves and their organization forward? Coaching is key.

Let’s not let coaching continue to get hijacked and turned into a strictly negative thing. Many of us are leaders, which means coaching is part of our job description. But coaching is a noble and (hopefully) selfless pursuit. It matters, both to your employees and your organization.

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