Tuesday, July 08, 2014

What does a Leadership Coach do on Monday Morning?

They get coached of course!

If I didn’t practice what I preach, you could call me a hypocrite.  I offer job coaching and career coaching services to my clients but I also get coached myself every chance I get.  I’m on a continuous quest to get better at everything I do and so are the coaching clients who allow me to work with them.

An Amazing Person

Very recently, an amazing person crossed my path.  Not only did he cross my path but he was in my presence for a large part of a 24 hour period in June.  I was invited to speak to the Information Security Leadership Forum in Dallas, TX recently.  On the stage with me was a USAF retired Major General. 

Mechanical Delay

We met at the Colorado Springs airport the morning of our speaking engagement.  I walked around the American Airlines gate area with a picture of the Major General on my cell phone until I found someone who looked like the picture on my phone.  Because of mechanical problems with our plane we left Colorado Springs and hour late.  We arrived at DFW at 11:58 AM and still had to get to our event location 30-40 minutes away.

Wrong Location

The limo driver took us to the wrong country club so instead of being 40 minutes late, we ended up being over an hour late for the event where we were both speakers.  Through this minor adversity, the Major General and I got to know each other really well.

Learning From an Expert!

I pounce on opportunities to learn from smart and accomplished people.  I have a passion for learning from people who are truly experts.  It turns out that the Major General has spoken in front of over 250 audiences and audiences as large as 8,000 people.  In the early part of his USAF career, the Major General wrote speeches for 4 Star Generals. How could I possibly not learn from someone with this level of accomplishment?


When we returned to Colorado Springs from our 24 hour Dallas trip, the Major General removed my luggage from the overhead compartment on the plane.  He pulled my bag through the airport and eventually placed it in the trunk of my wife’s car.  At that time, I was only a few weeks away from having had open heart surgery. I had a 5lb lifting restriction and I wasn’t able to drive a car yet and I couldn't lift much of anything.

My Lucky Day!

The Major General showed me so many reasons why through his USAF career, he rose to the rank of a 2 Star General.  When we got back to Colorado Springs, the Major General handed me his business card and offered to meet with me to help me take my public speaking to the next level.

Coaching Breakfast Meeting

That meeting occurred this morning over breakfast at the Garden of the Gods Club in Colorado Springs.  The Major General saw potential in me that he wanted to see developed.  I saw opportunity to learn from an expert.  This is what coaching is all about. 

Riding Shotgun

A couple of my leadership coaching clients think of me as the guy who rides shotgun in their passenger seat.  It's an honor for me to sit in multiple passenger seats by the way.  While they’re driving, I’m able to see things they don’t see.  That’s what the Major General did for me today.  Not just because he’s smart and accomplished but because I made myself coachable.  Both conditions have to exist for a coaching relationship to be successful.  The coach has to bring skills and experience to the table and the person who is being coached has to be teachable and they have to want to improve. 

Secret To Success

Soon after I sat down at the breakfast table, the Major General pointed out one of his colleagues at the table next to ours.  His colleague was a retired 4 Star General.  The Major General asked me if I wanted to take a guess as to what made the 4 Star General so successful.  I guessed that it was his people skills.

I hit one of the success factors for the 4 Star General's success but the point the Major General really wanted to get across to me was the 4 Star General had always made himself teachable and he was never too proud to be coached.  He always looked for ways to improve and he was on a constant track of self-improvement.

During the 24 hours that the Major General was exposed to me and after hearing me speak in Dallas, he came to the conclusion that I was hungry to become a better public speaker and he determined that I was teachable and I was willing to be coached.  

What is Coaching All About?

The food was great.  The view of the Garden of the Gods was the best view I’ve ever seen in Colorado Springs.  

What was best for me was the time I spent with a truly humble and very smart person who was willing to invest some of himself into me to make me better.  This is what coaching is all about.

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