It’s somewhat traditional in the recruitment, and other high performing sales industries, for strong individual contributors and top performers to be promoted into people leadership roles. Unfortunately, more often than not, the mindset and strengths of your rockstar performers don't always reflect that of a player coach. Nevertheless, many of us have had to find our own path and become a strong coach who can (and will) build a strong team who outperforms their objectives and targets.
Strong individual contributors and top performers enjoy the feeling of being #1 (and who doesn’t), so for those of you making the shift from flying solo to being responsible for others' performance, here are some top tips on how to become a great player coach.
Build mutual trust
Starting from a position of trust is essential for any relationship to reach its full potential. The sooner trust is built, the more likely your new team’s speed to competency or increased output will become apparent.
But when is the right moment to build trust?
If there is an option, start building trust during the interview process by making it known that your priority is to help your future team member’s career growth by investing your time and knowledge into making them successful. If you’ve inherited a team or lead the team you were once an individual contributor in, I recommend utilising the GROW model;
- G = Goal - Speak openly and set mutual, achievable, consistent objectives that lead to the ultimate goal/performance indicator.
- R = Reality - Stick to the facts and focus on positive indicators to enable successful delivery of objectives. Avoid emotive or hypothetical scenarios.
- O = Options - Plan the journey and the approach that should be taken. What aids, tools or resources are at your disposal to ensure targets are met?
- W = Will - Agree commitments for both you and your team members. What will each of you (because as the manager you play a part) ensure happens in order to achieve success?
Foster transparency and accountability in both directions
Leading any team, new or inherited, requires open communication, transparency, consistency and accountability. Fostering mutual accountability will ensure your team acts like a team, drives forward like a unit and achieves success together, in a cohesive and collaborative manner. As they say, teamwork makes the dream work.
Create and visualise clear and achievable goals
Some targets can be very overwhelming, especially for the more inexperienced members of your team. The reality of achieving goals can often be clouded by doubt, a lack of confidence, or the ability to over-engineer a solution. Be mindful of this when you communicate KPIs, targets and objectives; because it’s worth breaking those goals down into digestible, quarterly, monthly, weekly and on occasion, daily chunks.
Visualizing goals and how close within reach they are throughout a sales cycle is also very helpful. Adding key milestones along the way, coupled with an opportunity to celebrate success will energise your team and empower them to dig deeper, push harder and possibly, realise stretch goals are in sight.
Lead from the front
Do as I say and not as I do - a term demonstrated by a micromanager. This is how you alienate yourself from your team and slowly dismantle it. It’s incredibly important that you are consistent with your expectations and not through communication alone, but by what you do.
Actions speak louder than words, so make sure you provide guidance on that sales bid, attend those sales pitch meetings, deal with those challenging objections and allow your team to learn more about your methodology and what made you successful as an individual contributor.
Understand what coaching is
Remind yourself daily that the art of effective coaching in a high performing team environment focuses on 3 attributes:
Coaching styles should also vary depending on who you’re working with and as a coach. You need to balance 4 different styles to ensure everyone in your team has the best of you:
Of course, learning to be an All Star coach is not something that happens overnight and changing your mindset from being a standalone record breaker to that of a leader of record breakers is always tough. Remind yourself that by prioritising your team's performance ahead of your own, the team will take care of achieving new milestones and your brand will evolve from being that of a stand alone top performer to that of an All Star people leader that pushes the boundaries, sets new records and develops the next generation of top performers.
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