To understand the power of effective executive coaching, let’s think in terms of professional sports.

Consider the case of two of the most talented NBA stars in history: Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant. The careers of Jordan and Bryant have spanned 37 years and, collectively, they have amassed 11 NBA Championships.

For all their natural talents and abilities, both players have been unable to secure championships without the efforts and input of legendary coach Phil Jackson. Jordan was once famously quoted as saying, “talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.” It’s no coincidence then that Jackson has been called the smartest mind in basketball.

Coaching—in order to enable breakthrough performance—is a non-stop endeavor; a labor of blood, sweat, and tears. However, to truly understand what makes an effective coach, we must first dissect modern notions of what coaching is and isn’t, and then establish our own definition.

What it Means to Us

A quick search for books on coaching yields 27,778 results. Clearly, the definition of coaching varies wildly. As Insigniam defines it, coaching is the ability to make someone succeed beyond what that person could achieve on his or her own.

This means that coaching is not counseling. It’s not therapy, personal development, or mentoring. Moreover, coaching—especially when the aim is to unlock breakthrough performance—is not telling someone what to do or merely giving advice. Coaching is much more than that.

To borrow another metaphor from sports, coaching means working alongside a client to identify goals and help them tackle issues from all possible angles.

And perhaps, most importantly, the role of a coach is to drive all conversations toward action. Coaching is about performance and management results are a product of action.

We’ll explore this critical element—action—further in the next post in this series: Coaching: Part II – The 4 Parts of Action.

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