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What a Good Coach and Leader Does to Improve Work and Family Relationships

There's one skill great coaches and leaders have mastered; it improves work and family relationships and bring out the best in people, and it may be something you've overlooked...

I've overlooked it, too.  I remember one specific personal situation where I forgot about this skill.  It was years ago when my nephews, Jesse and Christopher, visited us in Atlanta from their hometown of West Columbia, South Carolina.  Not having children, other than my four-legged ‘kids’ Oscar and Felix, I wasn't always sure what boys would want to do, and I went to great lengths to line up activities so that each visit was ‘perfect’.

On this visit I was feeling even more pressure to create a great weekend because my husband, who likes all 'the guy-things’ my nephews like: race cars, motors, woodworking and everything male, was out of town.  I didn’t want my nephews to be bored with Aunt Suzie, so I was frantically searching my iPad for cool places to take them where they would be entertained.

I came across this Wall Street Journal Article: What a Good Coach Does by Actor David Duchovny (from the t.v. shows X-Files and Californication).  As I read it, it dawned on me that I was focusing on the wrong thing with my nephews.  Here's what caught my attention.

'What A Good Coach Does...'

In the Article Duchovny shares how his middle school basketball coach, Coach Byrne, influenced him “...here was a man who respected me by demanding that I respect myself and the game. I never knew if he liked me, that wasn’t so important. He saw potential in me, and I began to respect myself. That is what a good coach does. He fills you with a belief that may or may not be justified. As you make the dangerous crossing from unproven belief to actual accomplishment, from potential to reality, a good coach holds your hand so expertly that you don’t even know your hand is being held. I got better cause Coach Bryne told me I was already better. It was that simple --- a magic trick. And every success I’ve ever had since, has had some of this same magic in it, either at the hands of other skilled teachers or by the generous trickery of the voice inside me, they instilled."

He goes on to say that Coach Bryne's approach moved him from a reserved, scared, outwardly blasé  14 year old to a team player who began to care and become fully engaged in the game. Duchovny is famous and has been all over the world, and he's now 50+ years old, but he still remembers the impact his middle school basketball coach had on him!

How to Improve Work and Family Relationships: It's NOT Just Doing and Action...

Wall Street Article:

Read the entire Duchovny,Wall Street Article: What a Good Coach Does, here.

Duchovny’s article reminded me of something I knew, but temporarily forgot in my worry to make my weekend with the nephews 'perfect'. What a ‘good’ Aunt (Coach, Leader, Friend, Parent) does is the same thing Duchovny's basketball coach did for him: Cultivate a Positive Sense of Self in Others. This skill is the ability to sustain or build self-confidence in others. It's one of four skills all best bosses have mastered.

Duchovny‘s coach believed in him, and conveyed that belief to him. And, that article reminded me that the places I took my nephews were way less important than how I interacted with them. That my main focus should be on seeing their potential and expressing their value, and reflecting that to them, not solely on the activities I planned. 

Three Cultivate a Positive Sense of Self  Actions You Can Take to Improve Work and Family Relationships...

In my Four Skills Best Bosses Have Mastered leadership classes the first skill leader's focus on, is: Cultivate a Positive Sense of Self in Others.  Here are three actions you can take to move yourself toward mastery in this skill, so you can be like Coach Byrne with your employees:

  • #1: See Their Goodness Focus on pointing out what IS working for a person, and what s/he is doing well, MORE than what they are doing wrong. The best support, love and leadership we can give another is: to see their possibility and goodness, ‘beaming’ it to them with every thought and deed. When the other person expresses self-doubt, don’t buy into it.  Use Gallup's research and stay true to the 3:1 ratio with your employees. (Three encouragements to every one course course correction.)
    See who they really are, and who they really can be, until they see it for themselves.
  • #2: Be Present Be where you are! Get tuned-in to and 'with' the person you are with, even if you just have a few minutes. That means listening and showing interest. This is about spending focused time with your employees.
    Eliminate distractions when you are with your employees. Tune-in. Be present - remember, BE WHERE YOU ARE.
  • #3: Expect the Best This is another way to say # 1 See Their Goodness, but it is so important, I must remind myself (and YOU) again! The focus here though is to give LESS advice, and do MORE encouraging and listening. If you're doing this well you are asking questions and saying things like:  "I understand." "Tell me more."  "Then what happened?" "What do you think about that?" "I know you can do it." "I know you’ll figure it out, you always do." "You are good. You always have been, and you always will be."
    This means - giving LESS advice and encouraging and listening MORE.

For three more skill action steps, download this Four Skills Memory Jogger Card. To learn more about this skill and others, go to:  Four Skills Best Bosses Have Mastered and listen to this Podcast.

Coach Brynes strength in the Cultivate a Positive Sense of Self in Others skill - stayed with Duchovny for 40 years, because we NEVER forget how someone makes us feel.

It just makes sense, doesn't it? We work harder for people who look for our potential and reflect it back to us.

To Improve Work and Family Relationships, Remember: "They'll forget what you said, but they'll never forget how you made them feel..."

I use this Video in many of my corporate leadership training programs. It's a great reminder of how to best improve work and family relationships, and of what a good coach, leader and family member always does.  Watch and enjoy this good music, cool pictures and uplifting thoughts:

"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." Maya Angelou

How the Nephew Weekend Turned Out!

Christopher, Aunt Suzie & Jesse 2009 at Hard Rock Cafe

My weekend with Jesse and Christopher was wonderful, after I stopped worrying about if I had entertained them enough. When I turned my focus on: Seeing Their Best, Being Present and Expecting the Best WHILE we raced go carts, watched movies and ate all of their favorite foods, well, we had a great weekend.

My nephews are amazing and I am, once again, reminded that BEING with employees, people I'm coaching, friends and family members has MUCH MORE POWER than what I say and do.

It's wonderful to focus on what’s most important, first! 



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