“A great coach tells you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear.”
-Sagi Kalev

Here’s what the trap looks like:

You’re in charge, and the future of the company is on your shoulders. Your employees can’t understand that; they don’t know the pressure. You think that needing to focus on your job is more important than helping them with theirs. You save time by giving orders and not listening to their ideas. This is the authority-trap, and it’s easy to fall into. Barking orders is quick; engaging in dialogue takes time. Time that could be spent on other parts of your job.

Being a Boss:

Angry BossBosses give orders. Bosses make sure that everyone is exactly where they place them, doing what they want them to do, so they can focus on making the big decisions.

The boss thinks that their time is more important because they’re the one in charge.

Here are a few signs that you’ve fallen into the authority-trap:

  • You talk more than you listen. A lot more.
  • You like to work away from your employees, and are often inaccessible. They slow you down.
  • Your employees work for you because they’re scared of what will happen if they don’t.
  • You need to be Cc’d, kept in all loops, and control everything that’s happening.

Being a Coach:

When a boss climbs out of the authority-trap, they become a coach. And here’s the difference:

  • A coach listens more than they talk. They know their employees hold the key to growing their business, and that their perspectives matter.
  • Coaches inspire trust. People want to excel for them because it makes them feel like part of the team.
  • A coach likes to work where the action is, and has an open door policy so employees can run ideas by them, and give honest feedback.
  • Coaches challenge their employees to do better. They delegate, give real responsibility and demand accountability, and push their team to grow the company.

The Road to being a Coach:

Coaches grow companies, and quality employees would rather work for a coach than a boss. But that doesn’t mean that a coach is a pushover. Far from it. A coach challenges and pushes employees to be their best and encourages them to find their strengths and hidden talents.

Here are some steps to becoming a coach:

  • Practice aggressive listening – Become an Aggressive Listener
  • Don’t lead by email. Get out there with your team and have the informal, face-to-face conversations that really matter.
  • Reward your most engaged, energized staff with more of your time. Help them nurture their ideas, develop quarterly rocks with them (What Are Your Rocks?), and push them towards growing themselves and the business.
  • Don’t embarrass people in front of their peers. Praise them in public and go behind closed doors to correct them in a constructive way.
  • Don’t be everyone’s friend. A coach is not a friend, he’s a coach.
  • Confront poor performances and/or bad attitudes quickly. Defend your team, and take decisive action if you must.