You know how there are some people who are just really freaking good at certain aspects of their work? We all have strengths, sure; but some folks go a step further in one or two areas, right? It’s their sweet spot. Their thing. And when they’re doing that thing, it’s really a thing of beauty to watch.
You likely wouldn’t recognize his name right away, but he’s probably the best developer of people, the best coach, the best whatever-you-want-to-call-it I’ve ever seen firsthand. He’s simply way better at coaching than I am, which is great because I learn a lot from him and am better off for it. How he does what he does makes me want to keep pushing myself to get better at it. I want to be able to coach my team like I see him coach his. (And I’m not gonna lie–there are times he’s so good at it that it makes me want to punch him in the ear. Or maybe the tooth. But that’s what friends are for, right?)
I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately, and while I’m sure I haven’t pegged everything yet, there are a few things I see him do that remind me that I have a long way to go to be even close to the kind of coach/mentor I want to be. In short, here’s why he’s a kick-ass coach and mentor (and please don’t tell him about this post–he’ll get a big head about it and become just dreadfully insufferable).
Reason #1: He’s one of the most humble people I know. And not that artificial humility that some leaders put on because they know they’re supposed to be humble. What I put in the parenthesis at the end of the previous paragraph couldn’t be any further from the truth.
Reason #2: He’s very open about his weaknesses and weirdness. He’s open and vulnerable with his teams in ways I wish I was, and his teams are better off for it. He’s able to build legit trust with his teammates because while he’s a really good leader, he’s open and honest about where he’s not as good.
Reason #3: He strikes a great balance between being kind and being firm. A lot of folks tend to lean too far in one direction or the other. Either they’re super nice, but can’t hold people accountable; or they’re rigid and not human, and consequently they can regularly come off as jackasses. He’s one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet, even when he’s having tough conversations.
Reason #4: He encourages people’s craziness. He does a fantastic job of helping people learn how to be themselves in the workplace. He encourages a very human environment on his teams. Sometimes it can take a while to evolve to that point, but I’ve never seen his folks not end up there.
Reason #5: He’s a scary-good detector of untapped potential in people. He has this knack for seeing things in people that no one else sees. Further, he has the guts to make decisions based on that feeling, knowing full well that it’s likely that others may be scratching their heads and wondering if he knows what he’s doing. But he’s able to see greatness in people that they may not even see in themselves yet.
Reason #6: He’s exudes an infectious enthusiasm in the workplace. And again, it doesn’t seem to be that sort of fake enthusiasm that we can all sense from some folks. Leaders generally have one of two effects on others when they walk into a room: either they almost instantly raise the level of excitement or enthusiasm, or they suck the life out of the room. He’s most assuredly the former. Too many managers are the latter.
Reason #7: He has a great understanding of the dynamics on his teams, and it’s no accident that that’s the case. He works really hard at having a solid grasp of the different things at work on his teams. He pays an awful lot of attention to interpersonal dynamics, and is usually really good at figuring out what to do when those dynamics are less than ideal.
Reason #8: He admits he’s wrong, and he admits when he’s made a mistake. He doesn’t pass the buck, he doesn’t blame others, and he doesn’t try to hide the fact that he’s got flaws. Not only is that refreshing, but it also has a decidedly positive effect on the atmosphere on his teams.
Reason #9: He listens. I mean it. He really, really listens to people. He listens when his team gives him feedback, even if it’s not what he might necessarily want to hear.
The cool thing for me is that when I see the way he leads, it motivates me to grow as a leader myself. How he does his thing pushes me to get better at mine.