Is good leadership doing or coaching?

Last week I mentioned my summer break in France, off bike, sharp pain, cycle home, collapse, hospital, broken elbow, cast from wrist to shoulder. That can spoil things.

Plans to spend my days on the golf course and playing tennis with my son, Finley, were out the window. The limestone hills of Provence were hot, and my arm itched like buggery under inches of plaster.

So I sat under a hat, and watched Fin play tennis instead. Like my dad used to watch me. And I remembered why I believe so strongly that quality coaching is vital for success.

(Quick but relevant aside: I don’t just mean success in a financial, house, car, ringside seats way. I mean success in a fulfilled, understand what I’m doing, getting better every day way).

Leadership and coaching image for spencer green gds international blog

Good coaching creates great leaders. Shouting gets you a sore throat.

I have played a lot of tennis in my life, and watched a lot of coaches. A lot of them are well meaning but technically poor. Fin’s coach was technically excellent. I could not have been more impressed.

Technology has moved on from my day, the racquets have moved forward – lighter, quicker, the inch that changed tennis – and this meant there were little differences. I was fascinated. I watched and learned… this chap was coaching me as much as Fin.

With that standard of coaching twice a week, I believe Fin could be a county player in two years. By and large, I think you could to.

Our man used role-play and other techniques to make practice fun, he set attainable goals, and he was very clear in his praise when goals had been reached. He not only congratulated achievement, but also explained how my son’s overall game had been improved. Core strokes were demonstrated, tried, laughed about, rinse and repeat until right.

Coaching that is really effective is so impactful to your business. Bullet (point) time:

* Focus on your core processes

* Set and communicate clear expectations and attainable goals

* Please have fun. Please. This isn’t holiday tennis; it’s what your people do for a living

* Prepare, implement, repeat, prepare, implement…

For any key skill – tennis, sales, business planning – keep your core messages simple at heart and easily repeatable. If you don’t, what happens when the coach isn’t there?

In the nicest possible way: talent is overrated, largely because (outside of sports) great coaching is so underrated.

What does this mean for GDS? We have formalised our approach to business into something we call 3DO – the 3 Drivers of Opportunity: research, engagement, environment.

3DO is our methodology for engineering and accelerating the right conversations between our customers. We are a business media and services company. Our success is based on cutting through the crap of business life, the wasted meetings and 102-slide presentations, and delivering conversations that really matter – between peers facing similar challenges, between industries that have so much to learn from each other, and between those seeking solutions and those that have them.

It sounds simple and, at its core, it is. But the devil is definitely in the details. That is why we need great coaches right now… to practice, to have fun, to explain, and do it all again. Constant and consistent is the right leadership mantra for us, today.


About Spencer Green

Spencer Green founded GDS Publishing Ltd in October 1993 to specialise in industrial, government-led publications for the burgeoning Chinese market. The company launched over forty business-to-business titles, was name-checked alongside Tony Blair on China’s national news as ‘best for Chinese business’, and – following a move into India – deemed to be ‘of national importance’ by the Indian Institute of Foreign Trade. In 1998, GDS Publishing became GDS International and launched its first conference, Enterprise China. The hugely successful Enterprise series of conferences was rolled out across China and Latin America in the next two years. In 2000, GDS International launched its first Senior Executive Summit under the ‘Next Generation’ banner. This became the catalyst for nine years of 25% year-on-year growth... and 40% growth in 2010. In 2011, GDS held over 70 Summits for C-level Executives from a wide range of industries and across the globe, and eight digital marketing conferences. Today, GDS International is determined to become the world’s no. 1 business-to-business media and services company. It’s going to be an exciting journey! Spencer is married to Emily. They have two children, Finlay and Maya, and live in Bristol, UK.
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