Posted by: peterhact | June 14, 2013

Leaders, Managers, Coaches

Through a discussion I attended yesterday, I found that a lot of my ideas about coaches, counselors and psychologists were being challenged. There were a couple of points that I felt needed to be addressed, but the conversation flow was a bit one sided, so I did not get a chance to voice my opinion. Good job I have a blog.

I was told that Counselors deal in the past. I was also told that psychologists do the same. My psychologist would probably jump up and down as they disagreed. True, Psychologists do delve into our past to find out what is the reason for the messed up way we are today. They also provide ideas and allow us to find insight for the future. It is not a long “on the couch” session into a dim, dark past. They try and work out whether there is a trigger for the behavior and how to overcome it.

Counselors deal in the now and the future. They really don’t want to know what happened before, in your history, they are more concerned in the now and how to change the future as your current situation requires it. In all of my experiences with assisting people to recognise that they have a problem that needs to be addressed, have I ever said “tell me about your childhood”. I really want to see how to fix the issues at hand, the debt, the alcohol, the gambling, the relationship breakdown.

I am not a counselor. I am someone who can listen and provide advice. funnily enough, that is not what a counselor does. (according to yesterday’s conversation, at least)

Nobody comes to me and says “my life is just perfect, but I have this niggling childhood memory…” I get discussions about family, jobs, addictions and other common enough things in life. I listen carefully and ask questions. I don’t judge others, I have been in a nasty situation recently and I understand that they could be going through something similar.

Back in my youth, I wanted to be a manager when I grew up. As to what sort of industry, not a clue. I started attending the YMCA Leadership program, and became a leader. I went on camps, I helped with small people who had a myriad of issues, mainly homesickness, and I learned how to listen to them and help them and celebrate their achievements, commiserate their failures. I did not yell at them when they failed, I did not put them on a pedestal when they achieved, All of the kids in my care were treated equally. This was, I thought, what a leader does.

I was told that a leader of 12 small boys in a holiday camp is not management training.  I beg to differ. When a leader can look after bedwetting, homesickness, night terrors, and help children deal with these problems, as well as assist them to learn new skills like computer use, be prepared to get up at 3am and take a small boy to the toilet on a frosty morning because he has a morbid fear of wetting the bed and being punished, or helping a 12yo learn how to use the washing machine and dryer to be able to deal with a wet bed accident – these are managment / leadership skills. My team, my cabin of kids were a close knit group, a formidable collection of people to go up against in sport or agility, and one that helped each other out. These kids (I hope) went on to great things with their lives and took away something from the experiences that they had as kids.

Putting me in charge of a team of professionals might not have me deal with bedwetting, homesickness, night terrors or any other childhood surprises, but it may mean that I am there to listen, support and assist each member to be a part of the team, reach their full potential, and, if not suitable for the role, explore other options prior to being cast aside by the company. As I have experienced first hand, many people that are let go from a company may have required additional training, a re-visit from their original path or course of action, a re-invigoration of the passion that had died inside them. Every single employee that hasn’t engaged in unlawful behavior can be recycled, reclaimed and re-used, it just means that the company takes the time to find out the why, the how and the when, before attempting this course. Unfortunately, it seems that the “easy” option, sacking and starting with a new member of staff is the best option. I completely disagree.

The money used to recruit a new person, pay out entitlements of an old person, train and support a new person means that the ROI is never going to be on par. The old employee was the first investment. Dumping that initial investment, that employee’s cost, now has to be recouped in the form of a new and potentially risky employment agreement, which may or may not pay out. It is far better to train and retain an old employee that to start again.

With respect to a business leader, they are the people who are at the front of the coal face, they work out how best to gain growth from the employees by immersing themselves in the requirements of the company or client – I have never heard of a leader that leads from the back.

A manager looks after the other components of a business as well as provides leadership. If a manager is only interested in the company or the profits, they quickly find that their “team” diminishes as their staff are being pushed, not led into specific goals.

Coaching should be about helping anyone achieve their goals, not only the inspirational, the talented and the ones on the way to greatness. It should also be about assisting the people who haven’t worked out their direction, need assistance in learning and growing from their own limitations.

In sport, Coaching is about teaching, leading and supporting an athlete to be able to allow them to achieve greatness in their field. If the coach is not prepared to help the people who need to learn, how can they be called a coach? We don’t hear of Sport Managers, we do hear about sport leaders.

A coach can be both a leader and a manager. having the ability to provide tools necessary to enable a person to grow in a role in a team, provide instruction and manage perceived goals and attributes that are specific to that particular sport is what a coach does.

Every company employs a Leader, a Manager and a Coach. Whether that person is the same one through and through is up to the company. Do they provide resources that allow the person to grow into these roles, or do they let the person pick a path?



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