Bill Parcells, of the New York Jets knows better than most that being a head coach in the National Football League, though exciting and rewarding when you win, also takes a heavy personal toll. The following story is laminated and on the wall in his office. It’s called “The Coaches” and the author is unknown.

“The coach has nowhere to hide. He cannot just let the job go for a while or do a bad job and assume no one will notice, as most of us can. He cannot satisfy everyone. Seldom can he even satisfy very many. Rarely can he even satisfy himself. If he wins once, he must win the next time too.”

“They plot victories, suffer defeats, endure criticism from within and without. They neglect their families, travel endlessly, and live alone in the spotlight surrounded by others. Theirs may be the worst profession – unreasonably demanding and insecure and full of unrelenting pressures. Why do they put up with it? Why do they do it? Having seen them hired and hailed as geniuses at gaudy party-like press conferences and having seen them fired with pat phrases such as ‘fool’ or ‘incompetent,’ I have wondered about them. Having seen them exult in victory and depressed by defeat, I have sympathized with them. Having seen some broken by the job and other die from it, one is moved to admire and hope that someday the world will learn to understand them.”

In the National Football League and the rest of the sports world, great coaches watch their teams play. They study their team’s strengths and weaknesses and try to determine how each player can improve their individual performance and ultimately, the performance of the team as a whole.

The same is true in the business world. To help your team be successful, watch them in action; get to know what each person on your team does best and where they could improve. Support their positive actions and efforts, guide their direction, and when appropriate, instruct or demonstrate more effective techniques through coaching.

In the modern business world, managers are usually promoted into their positions because they were top individual performers. They performed consistently in their work and they showed an interest in advancing their careers by earning their promotion into management.

One of the most important jobs for a good leader is to help his or her people become successful. Starting right now you have to help your people become the best they can be. You will be most successful when you help your people grow to their full capabilities. Hopefully, they will become even better than you were in a particular job. How can you do that? By coaching your people to improve their productivity and achieve the specific results required.

Good coaches in business usually make excellent leaders. The two roles overlap and in many ways, and have much in common. The best leaders and the best coaches have a vision for their people. They influence their people to do things that are important and necessary.

Managers may get the same results, but usually with much lower levels of enthusiasm. Managers watch over assets, implement policy, follow prescribed procedures and enforce company policy.

Coaches will intentionally create the “right motivational environment” for their people. Coaches are interested in their people as human beings. Good coaches are interested in helping each of their people to develop to their full potential. Good leaders will coach and counsel their people and when necessary, confront their people in a caring and constructive way. It’s the leadership qualities of the top business coaches that inspire people to work to achieve spectacular heights and overcome extraordinary problems. Real coaches and real leaders are like eagles, they don’t flock you must find them one at a time!

Len D’Innocenzo and Jack Cullen are co-founders of Corporate Sales Coaches. Each has over twenty years experience as sales and customer service management executives. They are featured speakers, course developers and facilitators, and authors of two books; The Agile Manager’s Guide to Customer Focused Selling and The Agile Manager’s Guide to Coaching to Maximize Performance – Velocity Business Publishing – 1999 and 2001. For more information, contact 215-493-2465 or 678-341-9051 or visit our website at
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