Are You a Coach or a Tyrant?

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I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what it means to lead others and how this gets measured in the interview process.

Two recent things have caused me to really ponder this issue about leading/managing/coaching a group of people.

First, I am high school girls basketball coach. In my first 5-6 years of coaching at the high school level I obtained mediocre results. The last couple of years, I’ve obtained extraordinary results. The quality of the kids coming into our program is no different in the last few years that it was 5-6 years ago.

So, if player quality is essentially the same, what’s the factor that accounts for the performance difference. I believe it’s my understanding of how to coach a high performing team. How do I extract a level of results from a team or group that exceeds their individual capability – the SUM is greater than the individual parts? It took me 5-6 years to get to that place.

Layered on top of those epiphanies of how to lead high performing teams comes a burning desire to “sharpen the saw” as Steven Covey called it when he wrote his book on the “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”. I am a life-long passionate learner. I can’t go to enough workshops, seminars, conferences about leading and coaching. I can’t read enough books, blogs, and magazine articles about leadership.

My current leadership focus is on teaching mental toughness. I just finished the book Jay Bilas, the ESPN commentator, wrote on the same subject. I am continually watching, observing, and documenting what other coaches and leaders do. I reading everything I can on resilience, ability to overcome obstacles and challenges, and handle criticism and negativity. I want to MASTER the process of teaching my team mental toughness. I’ve actually put a plan together of how I’m going to teach mental toughness to me team this coming season.

Completely different perspective: My son is taking an AP World History class in high school. We’ve been having lots of discussions about leadership styles since reading about all the failures of dictators and autocratic rulers. Suddenly, it set me to thinking about all the CEOs and “C” level executives I’ve worked with over the past 30 years. What’s their dominant style: are they passive, dictatorial, or coaches of outstanding teams?

Take these two divergent areas of thought, and I’m re-thinking: how do we measure great leaders of teams in the interview process? What do the very best leaders DO that the average and mediocre leaders DON’T do? How can translate that understanding into specific interview questions that yield strong, quantifiable, rich, detailed, and specific examples?

I’ll be sharing some of these personal observations –  from the basketball court to the executive suite – over the course of the next few months.

Here’s what I would like to hear from the readers of our blog:

When was the last time you became deeply introspective about your style of leadership?

How much time do you spend “sharpening the saw” for your own capability and impact? What grade would you give yourself in the leadership department?

What’s the ONE thing you could be better at as a leader – more importantly, what are you doing about it?

Your capability to hire and retain a great team is directly correlated to your capability as a leader. Average leadership capability yields an average team.

Let’s work together in the framework of this blog to wrap our arms around the issue of measuring “real leadership” in the interview process.

Barry Deutsch

Barry Deutsch

About the Author

Barry Deutsch is a founding Partner of IMPACT Hiring Solutions, co-author of "You're NOT the Person I Hired", and "This is NOT the Position I Accepted". Barry is an award-winning international speaker, retained executive recruiter, and expert on hiring and retaining top talent, and executive job search.

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