I’m pretty close to the executive coaching world. My wife Mariquita is an extraordinary CEO coach. I’ve worked for decades with Marc Maltz from Hoola Hoop, who helped me transform everything about how I lead organizations. I’ve been friends with Jerry Colonna of Reboot fame for years (I did a fun podcast with Jerry last year called “Everyone is Scalable). I’m pretty good friends with Chad Dickerson. Bolster’s marketplace helps place CEO coaches and even has a programmatic approach to coaching and mentoring called Bolster Prime. The list goes on.
My friend Mitch, a fellow baseball coach, gave me a fun book a couple years ago that is a page-a-day called Coach: 365 Days of Inspiration for Coaches and Players, by Matthew Kelly. It’s a compilation of quotes. Some are better than others. But I just love this one from a couple weeks ago. While obviously it is in the sports context, the sentiments are the same around executive coaching.
Marc and I had one senior executive who we worked with years ago. They had significant personality and style issues that weren’t working well in our culture. They were abrupt, needlessly angry, and cultivated relationships based on fear, not based on trust. Marc and I were tearing our hair out trying to give this person feedback and coaching. Nothing was working. Then I delivered a 2×4 between his eyes. They argued with me and Marc and said that the problem was us…not them. That we were soft.
Two days went by. Then we met with them again. They came into the meeting visibly upset, shaking their head and a bit choked up. They opened the meeting by saying, “I went home and complained to my spouse about your feedback. And my spouse told me that, actually, you are right, and that I should ask my kids. My whole family feels the same way you do. More than my job is at risk — my marriage and family are at risk, too.”
Months and years later, with a ton of coaching and feedback and support from Marc and me and the rest of our executive team, this person had really turned it around. They were doing better at work. They were doing better at home. The work was long and painful and not without its bumps and backtracks. But the person made changes that were meaningful and permanent to all their relationships, not just something in the moment at work. It’s a clear case of this quote — coaching changed his life.
As I’ve said before, People are People. It doesn’t matter if you’re at home or at work. It doesn’t matter if you’re a B2C person or a B2B person. While there are some prominent examples of individuals throughout history who have very different work and home personae (John D. Rockefeller is one that comes to mind, but I’m sure there are other famous ruthless businesspeople who were empathetic and loving spouses and parents), most of us are simply humans, works in progress. We learn something in Context A, and it’s part of us when we are also in Context B.
The impact of a good coach goes way beyond how you lead your organization.