The 5 Don’ts of Coaching and Mentoring
Is there anyone in your life, either personally or professionally who helped you get to where you are today? It is likely that the answer is yes. It is very important to have someone to help you along the way and give you that extra boost of confidence. On this episode of the Motivational Intelligence Podcast, we talk about what NOT to do in both a coaching role and a mentoring one in the workplace. Unfortunately, the higher-ups in a company sometimes don’t want to participate in coaching or mentoring because they think it is a big event- when really it is something that can be done consistently every single day. Sometimes, all that is missing from a team are valuable people to help them bring out their unlimited potential. A large majority of people probably aren’t even aware of the fact that they have unlimited potential, which is why that is such a vital part of what we teach here at 2logical!
One of the main issues in the workplace is that people often know what they need to do and how to do it, they just lack the motivation and desire to do so. This is why having a coach or a mentor is absolutely crucial, more so than most people are aware of. Having that person could boost an entire team’s sales, or maybe even stop a person from looking elsewhere for employment. Dave and Sean also discuss how everyone in a company- anyone ranging from entry level to higher level executives- could highly benefit from a coach or mentor. Sometimes all it takes is one person to completely change your mindset!
Interested in learning more? Check out this informative and insightful episode of the Motivational Intelligence Podcast, and be sure to check us out on all social media!
The Five Don’ts of Coaching and Mentoring
Sean Johnson: Mr. Naylor, we are back
David Naylor: That almost sounded a little creepy.
Sean Johnson: Oh boy, how are we doing, my friends?
David Naylor: Starting off well today.
Sean Johnson: Rough start. I did have a topic in mind today. If you’re cool with it. I wanted to talk about coaching and mentoring. Mentoring and coaching. It kinda seems like those get tossed around a lot, kind of interchangeably.
David Naylor: Like peanut butter and chocolate, or something like that.
Sean Johnson: Yeah, they go together pretty well. It’s the Reese’s peanut butter of the business. So I wanted to focus our chat today on that. And, you know, like I said, it seems like those two, coaching and mentoring or coaches and mentors a lot of times, get tossed around interchangeably, like they’re the same thing.
David Naylor: Sort of like leadership and management? The two words just kind of are like sisters to one another. Oftentimes, people, they don’t really know the difference of them.
Sean Johnson: So there is a difference? So let’s maybe, let’s start there. What’s the difference?
David Naylor: All right. Let me kind of create a framework and that’ll help to set up to understand.
First we have to go to, what is it that we’re really looking to accomplish? As business leaders, let’s say, or business managers, at the end of the day, we’re all striving to get some kind of a business result. So, whether it’s getting projects done, getting strategies executed upon achieving goals, we’re looking to achieve some type of result, right? So that means we all universally agree at the end of the day, that’s how our success is evaluated, right?
We inherently understand that if we can get our people to take the right actions, to do the right things and to do the right things the right ways, by the laws of cause and effect, then we should be able to achieve those outcomes that we’re looking for.
I think inherently we understand that. So, what causes people to do the right things, the right ways, or what causes people to do the wrong things the wrong ways? When you really look at a person’s actions, what ultimately drives that is their dominant thoughts and beliefs.
You know, what it is that resonates in their head ultimately determines the actions that people will take, or the actions that they’ll resist taking. So…
Sean Johnson: It’s that little voice in their head that’s telling them what to do.
David Naylor: Exactly. So it’s our thoughts and beliefs that drive our actions, our actions drive our results.
So we understand that perspective. Now let’s talk about the coaching and the mentoring side. So what a coach does, and in their purest and simplest sense, is a coach is an individual who focuses at that action level, in terms of getting people to understand what the right actions to be taking are and then helping people to develop the skill sets that would cause them to be able to execute the right way on those actions. So coaches focus at the action level. What a mentor does in contrast as a mentor, very much focuses at that thought and belief level. So it’s really the interaction of those two that drives performance in an organization.
Your question I think is well placed because so often I think we go into organizations, you kind of see, people think that a mentor is a person who’s two levels above them in the organization but not somebody they directly report to, in their direct reporting line or something like that.
I think a coach is somebody that you hire from outside the organization that comes in and gives you advice and those kinds of things. Neither of those things are necessarily true. You know, it’s really the nature of what that person focuses on that determines what title they should have.
If they’re focusing on helping us to take better actions and to learn better skills, then they’re a coach. If they’re focusing on shifting our thoughts and beliefs, they’re a mentor. And if you look at it from that perspective, really anybody could be, you know, I mean, your son or your daughter or your spouse could be a mentor if they’re influencing what you come to think and believe, anybody could really be a coach if they’re helping you to embrace certain skillsets that are going to help you to achieve better results in your life.
Sean Johnson: Well, you know, it kind of makes sense as you were talking about that, it kind of made me think of, just even if you listen to the language and even the emotion around how people will use the word coach or use the word mentor, a lot of times when they’re talking about a coach, they’re talking about, you hear it thrown around much more in a professional sense in terms of an executive coach or a basketball coach or whatever it is.
A lot of times when you hear people talk about a mentor of theirs, it’s less about, they really helped me to develop this skill set or something like that, but they really talk about them with such reverence and it feels just like a much more personal connection to them, as opposed to, I had a swing coach help me with my golf swing. You’re not going to talk about that same person the same way as somebody referred to a mentor as.
David Naylor: Exactly and again, that goes back to the level at which they impacted us. The reason that people talk about those mentors with such reverence is because they impacted them at such a fundamental level. I mean, they literally changed what we came to think and believe about ourselves and because of that, we took different actions. You know, we looked at ourselves differently. We gave ourselves a differing level of permission. We were able to move past a fear or self-doubt that was holding us back, you know? And so it was the fact that that person impacted us at that very core thought and belief level. We talk a lot about Motivational Intelligence and to no small extent, that’s the domain that mentors live in. They influence ones Motivational Intelligence. They help individuals to increase that awareness or increase that Motivational Intelligence and thus people give themselves the permission slip to learn new skills or take different actions then they were taking before.
Sean Johnson: Yeah. Permission slip. I like that. So if somebody wanted to be a great, I guess, well, so now that we’ve kind of defined the difference, maybe we can split these up, and drill a little bit deeper.
If somebody wanted to be a great coach, what makes somebody effective as a coach?
David Naylor: So, we understand coaches impact at the action level, right? And so one of the things over the years here at 2logical and going into organizations and working with scores of organizations, what we found, and it was actually, it was interesting, a lot of the basis of this actually came from work that we did in GE back in the 90s. What we found through the research is in any given role that we have in life, this, oh, by the way, is both personal and professional.
So in any given role that we have in life, there’s always between five and seven true high payoff activities. So it’s a great term and it’s a great way to kind of wrap your head around something. So what is a high path activity? Well, a high payoff activity is a core activity that one does, that has the biggest impact on the metrics of success in that particular role. So, that’s not to say that there’s only going to be five to seven things that someone’s going to do in that role, but there’s five to seven mission critically important things that somebody has to really be good at if they’re going to be successful in the role.
Sean Johnson: Which makes it much more manageable than “Oh, man, I got these 76 different things, everything’s getting flying at me, and what do I focus on?”
David Naylor: Exactly. How do you prioritize 70 things, 76 different things? And if its 76 different things, then inherently people will tend to gravitate towards whatever’s making the most noise right now, regardless of whether it’s important or not. So much when we go into organizations, we talk about the tyranny of the urgent, and, if you look at a lot of people’s schedules, they spend an ordinate amount of time fighting fires, fixing problems, running from this situation to the next, reacting to whatever their boss is making the most noise about right now regardless of whether those are really the most important things or not. So a lot of times people, they just absolutely lose sight of the difference between what’s truly important and those things that are urgent.
Sean Johnson: And its even more challenging now because you’re getting hit with however many emails and text messages and Slack messages and we’re so much more connected that the reaction, you could just walk into the office and react to stuff all day long.
David Naylor: Absolutely.
Sean Johnson: And probably run out of time.
David Naylor: And you go home in the evening and it feels like you’ve been running at 15 miles an hour on the treadmill all day. But did you really get anything done?
Sean Johnson: Yeah. I hate that feeling. You leave, you put in a long day. And then you get, you get home, you sit on the couch and you’re like, “what did I actually get done today?”
David Naylor: I think we can all relate to that. You’re mentally exhausted, but are you mentally exhausted because the day has been running from this urgent thing to this urgent thing to that urgent thing, or has the day gone simply because, we just reacted to whatever’s easiest for us in that moment, you know? So sometimes, let’s face facts, people manage their time based upon their comfort zones too.
So, you know, if it’s easier for me to go and get lost in emails for an hour, then I may do that versus focusing on something that has a much greater impact, you know? So that plays out too. So, you know, circling back to the high payoff activities, so in any given role, there’s always going to be between five and seven of those really mission critical, important things that an individual needs to focus on if they’re gonna maximize their impact or maximize the results that they’re going to get in that role. I remember a while back, I watched a YouTube video from, I think it was a University of Chicago professor and he had just written a book, and I believe the title of the book was something to the effect of “everything you need to know to manage your finances you can write on one, three by five card,” and kind of a curious title, the guy told the story about how he had taught finances at this is great university for all these years.
But he never really stopped and thought about, “Well, what causes a person to build a solid financial life for themselves?” So he went out and he started reading books on building a solid financial life, talking to people who’d built a solid financial life.
As he was doing the research and he was doing the reading, he started to realize that, all of these books and all these people were basically saying the same things. Thus he came to the realization that people think, to your point, its 76 different things, and thus nobody can really build a solid financial life. He realized that it’s not really 76 things. You can actually take one small little three by five card and write down everything you need to do to build a solid financial life.
Sean Johnson: Oh, that’s it.
David Naylor: What he defined was the high payoff activities of building a solid financial life for yourself and that’s true whether we work in an operational capacity within an organization, whether we work in a sales capacity, whether we work, you know, in an IT function, an engineering function. If you look at a specific given role, there’s always five to seven key things.
Sean Johnson: And it’s kind of like the fundamentals of the role.
David Naylor: Exactly. And so in order for somebody to be a great coach, the first thing they have to do is they have to understand is “What am I really coaching to?” So looking at the role in that lens of high payoff activities, you can begin to see, okay, so what are those five to seven mission critical things that my people really need to be a master of if they’re going to really maximize their impact in what it is that they’re doing. They may do 30 things, but not all of those things are of equal importance. So what are those five to seven things? And what that does is it creates a framework for coaching, because now once you’ve got those five to seven prioritize things, then you can look at each of the individuals that you’re working to be a coach on and say, okay, well, where are they strong and where are they not so strong? You know what to focus on.
Sean Johnson: Yeah. It makes it so much more manageable.
David Naylor: Right. And if you think about it, you talked about coaching earlier, you talked about traditionally a lot of times when we think of the word coach, we think sports.
A sports coach absolutely does this, if they’re sitting there and they’re an authentic line coach in the NFL, they know that for a right guard, these are the key things that right guard really has to be a master of. You’ll go back to even in the days of Vince Lombardi, you know, and it was running, blocking, and tackling, were those core fundamental things that he focused on in every practice.
Sean Johnson: I mean, like even, John Wooden, one of the greatest college basketballs stars of all time, huge advocate of “do the fundamentals and do them well.”
You look at Bill Belichick who’s won however many Superbowls. That’s all he talks about is, “just do your job.” That’s kind of the mantra with the Patriots.
David Naylor: And so that’s the first thing, you know, again, understanding what a coach really does, and a coach focuses at that action level.
And then what are those key actions? Or what are those five to seven high payoff activities that the person you’re coaching really needs to be good at? What are the fundamentals? And then that’s what you really work on teaching them, you know, so a) they understand what they are, and b) they understand what are the best practices of doing that. What’s the right way to execute on that particular activity?
Sean Johnson: Yeah. So it gives you a framework for, okay, now I can evaluate this person or even evaluate myself, but if I’m coaching somebody, I can evaluate this person on these five to seven things, and now I know what to focus on.
David Naylor: Exactly.
Sean Johnson: Yup. That makes sense. So how about a mentor? If we’re at that action level with the coaches and itsusing that framework of, of HPAs, those five to seven things, what makes a mentor effective?
David Naylor: Okay, so, , this is really the much bigger question and the much more important question because it’s relatively easy to tell people what they should be doing. It’s even relatively easy to tell them how they should be doing it. It doesn’t oftentimes happen in business, but nonetheless, that’s a relatively simple thing. If it was as easy as that, then, businesses will be infinitely more successful than they are.
So we’ve got to come back to the question of, why don’t people embrace high pay off activities? Why don’t they practice those things? If you can tell a salesperson that you need to be asking for referrals and you can give them a referral script of, say this, right and they just went and did it, it’d be simple. But we all recognize that you can tell this person to ask for referrals until you’re blue in the face, but that doesn’t mean they’ll do it. You can tell them, you need to pick up the phone and make this many outbound calls or whatever it is and that doesn’t mean you don’t necessarily do it. So we come back to what we talked about before about the influence of those thoughts and beliefs. Our dominant thoughts and beliefs always drive our actions and our actions by the laws of cause and effect dictate our outcomes.
The challenge that individuals face and as a result of that, we as business leaders is that, the vast majority of people we will meet, they have mental roadblocks that keeps them from embracing the actions. It keeps them from practicing things until they master them and because of that, even if we do a perfect job as a coach, it’s going to limit our effectiveness if we can’t help people to overcome those mental roadblocks. So, what makes somebody a great mentor is their understanding of recognizing what are the mental roadblocks that somebody has cause they’re not always the same in everybody and then helping people to be able to move past those roadblocks.
Sean Johnson: I mean that makes perfect sense. I feel like a lot of times when something isn’t getting done, whether it’s in the business world or, you know, “I’m trying to get into shape,” people use most of the time, not always, but most of the time, people know what to do. People know how to do it. People know “I should eat healthy and go to the gym,” and they know how to eat healthy, buy vegetables at the grocery store and jump on the treadmill, but they don’t do it. So it makes a lot of sense that there’s some other kind of force at play here. So in terms of the mental barriers of identifying what those mental barriers are and helping people to overcome them, that’s great, but how do we do that?
David Naylor: There’s the real secret sauce. There’s been a lot of research, around that over the course of the years. I mean, you go back to the 1950s and you look at what McClellan did and Harvard and stuff like that. It really ties back to, what are those kind of motivational triggers in us, as human beings?
We’ve really been, going back into the middle part of the 80s, began to look at this as we were going into organizations. So kind of pairing the research basis with the practical application of it.
What you find is that there’s always, if you net it all out in its purest and simplest sense, those roadblocks will always exist in one of five areas of an individual. It’s really the key to figuring out what is the combination that unlocks somebody, you know?
And so we all have slightly different combinations. But if you think about it, let’s say that combination has, has five numbers on it, right? So, those five numbers relate back to these five areas. So you’ve got to figure out within an individual, which one of these five levels or which combination of these five levels is giving this person up? What are the roadblocks that are holding them back? So the roadblocks will always exist, either with regard to one’s, one’s willingness to be accountable, one’s belief in their ability to be adaptable, one’s understanding of how to be resilient in life, one’s willingness to take initiative or one’s ability to be able to move with courage in life. So the five variables that unlock a person are going to be accountability, adaptability, resilience, initiative, and courage. What one’s dominant thoughts and beliefs are as it relates to each one of those categories.
If an individual is struggling, and so inherently, remember what we talked about earlier, that a person’s thoughts and beliefs always impact their actions. This is a whole conversation in and of itself, but you know, inherently, if a person is, if their issue exists at the accountability level, you’re going to see that they make a lot of excuses and they spend a lot of time pointing fingers or placing blame or rationalizing why something can’t get done or why a goal isn’t realistic or why is strategy is an executable or why a deadline isn’t reasonable.
So they get lost in a lot of very disabling behaviors. If a person struggles at the adaptability level, what happens is you see that they tend to be very closed minded. They don’t listen well. They’re not very reflective. When you try to give them feedback, they fight the feedback.
They will exhibit risk aversion or they try to cling to more of a legacy way. The way we’ve always done things. If a person struggles at the resilience level, what happens for them is they will tend to get, if things don’t, if they’re not immediately successful, if they don’t very quickly get positive feedback or positive reinforcement, they’ll default to kind of a negative attitude about things. They won’t be persistent, so they’ll take a knee and they’ll stay down if they’re not very quickly successful. This also plays huge from a learning perspective, because people struggle at the resilience level, inherent in learning, there’s always that learning curve that people have to go through.
Sean Johnson: Kind of suck at everything in the beginning.
David Naylor: Exactly, its the reality of learning something, you know? So the way we become better at things is by practicing. Practice, reflect, adjust, keep practicing. But what happens is if people struggle at the resilience level, they’re not willing to practice enough. So they’ll try something once or twice and if they’re not immediately successful, “I can’t do this.” They get a negative attitude and they give up on it. So that holds them back. If they struggle at the initiative level, what happens is they lack self-motivation. They lack drive, they lack passion and focus.
So that holds them back. And if they struggle at the courage level, they get ruled more by their fears, their uncertainties, and the doubts of things. Thus that fear and that uncertainty becomes their justification for not taking action. So you can begin to see how one or some combination of these five things ultimately is what holds everybody back in virtually everything that they do in their life.
Sean Johnson: Yeah. I mean, it could be, it could be debilitating.
David Naylor: Absolutely. And so as a mentor, the crux of what we do is we look at individuals and we have to figure out, what’s the Achilles heel of this individual and then we work on helping them to be able to move past that mental roadblock that they hold in one or some combination thereof those areas.
Sean Johnson: That’s a really helpful framework where you’re looking at, okay, these are the five areas and each of those five areas kind of has symptoms and so that’s kind of your diagnosis process, looking at the symptoms and you can draw back to, what’s the disease here?
David Naylor: Exactly.
Sean Johnson: Exactly. That makes sense. In that evaluation phase, they’re looking at those, at the symptoms and drawing them back to those five areas. What happens? Or what do we do once we have, okay, here’s kind of this person’s Achilles heel, or here’s their kind of motivational profile, what do we do from there?
David Naylor: From a mentoring standpoint, it’s really a process of shifting those individuals away from those limiting beliefs and getting them to grab onto more optimal or enabling beliefs, so if somebody is struggling at that accountability level, you’ve got to get them to let go of, and we’ve talked about before in our conversations, that kind of victim thinking mentality that they’ve got, where they’re rooted in the finger pointing and the blame and the destructive behaviors and move that person to more of a fundamental belief in ultimate responsibility. So rather than pointing the finger externally, it’s more of an internal focus and help them to raise their awareness to understand that the two things that each of us really have to accept responsibility for. The only two things that we control in life are what we choose to think and what we choose to do. So, when an individual first becomes aware of, , “Am I looking at this, am I thinking about this from a framework that is debilitating or empowering? Are the actions that I’m taking, are they ones that are moving me towards what I want or what I don’t want?” When an individual accepts responsibility for those two things, there’s not a whole lot you can do that’s gonna stop them in life.
That fundamental awareness too, even from a business perspective, it’s the most liberating thing that a person can really come to realize in life. I had a gentleman in a group here a little while ago, who likened that awareness of going from having a victim mentality to having that mentality rooted in ultimate responsibility as being the difference between living life in black and white and living life in color because when you’re living life in black and white, everything’s outside of your control, what’s happening to you. You’re hopeless, there’s nothing you can do, you know? It’s kind of that black and white, kind of bleak existence.
Yet, when one moves to the other side and they begin to think about, “Am I really looking at this from the best perspective? Am I really taking the right actions?” Now all of a sudden they put themselves in control and a whole new world of options opens up to them as a result of that. So, moving people from one side to the other, it is a process of getting them to let go of the limiting beliefs and grab onto more optimal beliefs. It takes a little bit more expertise than the coaching but it also has a significantly bigger impact. So it’s candidly and in what we do, in our leadership training processes that we bring into organizations, it’s one of the biggest things that we teach folks, is really those core tools. Surprisingly, they’re not as complicated as people think to do it, I mean, there’s some really simple fundamental things that people can do to move people from having those limiting thoughts and beliefs to having the more optimal ones.
It makes a very profound difference in a team when a leader really comes to understand what those tools are and how to apply those. It’s easily 80% of what we do when we’re going into organizations is helping them to understand, how do you figure out what is the combination thats going to unlock the different people on your team? And then what are the things you do to really apply that to help people?
Sean Johnson: Can you give us an example of, what’s one simple thing they could do to close that or start to shift it in the direction needs to go?
David Naylor: Okay. So one of the things that we see a lot when we go into organizations, looking specifically at that accountability thing, is managers, in many cases, they actually are their own worst enemy in a lot of cases because people will come to them with a problem and they just kind of dole out the answers okay, “here’s the problem, go do this,” and it creates this sort of co-dependence on a team. As managers, we can feel good about that because we pat ourselves on the back and say, oh, you know, “Look at what a great manager I am because I just helped you solve that problem.” But they actually perpetuate more destructive behaviors by doing it. Conversely, a much more productive way to handle it is to create more of what we call a “no excuses” policy on a team. A “no excuses” policy is not a no communication where you’re trying to stifle people or something like that, but it’s where as a manager, we’re just not allowing people to stop at an excuse.
You can actually create a no excuses policy really simply, in fact, all you really gotta do is ask three questions consistently. The first question is when somebody comes to you with a problem, what exactly is the problem? Now, the ironic thing is when you ask that question, what you’ll find is in many, many cases, people can’t even clearly identify what the problem is. So how do you come up with a solution if you can’t even identify exactly what the problem is? So if we want to create a no excuses policy, we got to get first people to understand, what really is the problem that we’re facing here?
Now, in many cases, the manager may understand what the problem is, but our job as managers and leaders is to help our people, to think, to help them to grow, to help them to, you know, to get them more mentally engaged in the process so we could tell them what the problem is, but it’s much more effective if we can get them to really think it through and figure out what the problem is from their perspective.
Sure. So what really is the problem is the first question. Second question, what do you recommend that you do about that problem? You notice the change in pronouns, right. So just by asking that question, you’re empowering that person to, you know,] okay, well, come up with an idea, “What do you think you should do about it? What do you know? What exactly is the problem? What do you recommend that you do about it?” So now you’ve got that person mentally engaged and coming up with a solution or a recommendation.
Sean Johnson: Yeah and not only coming up with the solution, but also implementing the solution.
What do you recommend you do about it?
David Naylor: Exactly. So now think about what that changes in a person’s thought process. If I tell you to go do something, I own whatever I’m telling you to go do. If you come to me and you say, “Hey, Dave, this is what I think I should do,” now you own it. Huge difference, right? So question number one is what exactly is the problem? Question number two, what do you recommend that you do about the problem? Question number three is, are you empowered to put that solution in place?
From an organizational perspective, we want our people to act in a more empowered fashion. But by the same token, people, often times you can tell somebody they’re empowered till you’re blue in the face, but they won’t act in an empowered fashion because there’s, “ If I do it and I screw it up, what happens? But if you tell me to do it and I screw it up, then it’s your fault. “
Sean Johnson: Yeah, exactly.
David Naylor: So are you empowered to put that solution in place? And so now what you’re doing is you’re beginning to establish the boundaries for an individual. At what level are they really empowered to put things in place?
Sean Johnson: It makes them think about it.
David Naylor: Right? Also now they begin to see, what really are those parameters that they’re operating within? Now here’s what happens when we bring this process back onto a team. What happens is, you ask these questions a few times, people are going to very quickly realize that, “Okay, if I come to Sean, he’s going to ask me these three things.” So mentally, they will start to premeditate their thought process.
Cause they know you’re gonna respond this way. So I’ll come to you and I say, “Okay, Sean, here’s the problem, here’s what I think I should do about it, but I wanted to check with you to see, you know, is this okay? Am I empowered?” In a lot of cases, they’re just looking for the reassurance. They want a pat on the back, like, “You’re on the right track, run with it,” and just give them that reinsurance and let them go. In other cases, it may be a situation where they’ve come up with a solution, but it’s not really an optimal one.
In those cases, we have to fight the habit as managers to say, “Yeah, don’t do that. Do this instead,” because again, now we come back to that, “I own it” instead of “they own it,” right? So if they come back with a less than optimal solution, what we want to do is just ask them questions, because if we ask them questions, we’re getting them to think, “You could certainly do it that way, but if you did it that way, what might be the financial ramifications of it? Or how could that be perceived at a customer level? Or how might that impact the operations group?” And so by asking these questions, you’re getting them to think their solution through from different perspectives to come up with a more optimized solution.
So you’re really teaching them how to problem solve. You’re teaching them how to vet a problem to come up with an optimized solution. You’re training them to think.
Sean Johnson: Yeah, very Socratic method.
David Naylor: Right. So it’s a simple tool with very broad reaching ramifications. If you want to foster more of a culture of accountability on your team, just three simple questions to begin to train people to think differently as it relates to accountability.
Sean Johnson: Well, that’s super helpful. So, we talked about, if I want to be a more effective coach and I want to be a more effective mentor, we’ve got a pretty good map of how that works, but I think it’s probably fair to say, and correct me if you disagree that no matter where you are in the organizational structure or even age wise, it probably benefits everybody to have a coach or a mentor of their own.
David Naylor: Oh, absolutely. It’s hard to grow in a vacuum. Our own perspective is so limited, and so we all see the world based upon our own reference points and in our own mental filtering.
Sean Johnson: Yeah.
David Naylor: So, it’s impossible to be objective about oneself.
Sean Johnson: So you kind of need that sounding board and need that additional perspective. So how does somebody find one then? How does somebody find a coach or a mentor?
David Naylor: Well, it’s a lot easier to find a coach than a mentor because coaching comes back to skillsets. So, you can look at, “where am I struggling in terms of the skills side of things? What skills would help me to be more successful?” Then go looking for somebody around you who has a level of expertise that you don’t have as it relates to that given skillset. What I’ve found is that most people are flattered if you come to them and you say, “Hey, you know, Mary, I’ve been watching and I can’t help but notice that you’re really good when it comes to doing business presentations or, you know, Jim, it’s really phenomenal how well you do when you’re booking sales appointments,” or something. And, “If you don’t mind, I’d really like to ask you some questions and learn a little bit more about how you do that,” so for most people, they’re pretty flattered when somebody asks that.
Sean Johnson: Yeah they’ll open up like a book.
David Naylor: Exactly. So, finding a coach in that regard is a whole lot easier/
Sean Johnson: Just find somebody who’s really good at it and ask them.
David Naylor: Exactly. Finding a mentor is a little bit trickier because mentoring takes a higher level of expertise. It takes a higher awareness level. I remember something that, I don’t remember if it was my mentor or his mentor who said this, but, years ago made a comment that, “When the student is ready, the mentor will appear.” So I think in finding a mentor, a lot of that is being at a point in our lives where we’re willing to allow ourselves to be a little more mentally malleable and in opening ourselves up to it. So when we’re willing to kind of let down our defense mechanism, let down our guard, acknowledge the fact that maybe we are our own worst enemy.
Those mentors have this weird tendency of kind of appearing and the other thing too is, you go back and think about how we defined what a mentor does. And then our mentor influences our thoughts and beliefs. So, you know, anybody can really be a mentor because anybody can really influence our thoughts and beliefs if we’re willing to let our guard down and be a little bit more perceptive. So, my son and daughter, they’ll say things to me that, you kind of step back and you’re like, “Whoa,” and so they have the ability to mentor you in that regard by influencing your thoughts and beliefs, but only if you’re willing to bring your guard down low enough to really think and be reflective about what people are saying to you and why.
Sean Johnson: I think for people that do have that higher level of expertise and that higher level of awareness where they could mentor you, they can tell when you’re not going to listen. That’s probably a big part of when the student is ready, the mentor appears.
It’s because mentor knows that knows when the walls are up and I’m not going to waste my time talking to a brick wall, when they’re down, they can kind of sense it and tell okay, I’m willing to invest in this person.
David Naylor: Yeah, exactly.
Sean Johnson: That makes a lot of sense. So let’s translate this back for a minute to the business world, what’s your take on the state of coaching and mentoring in the business world?
David Naylor: It’s pretty abysmal, actually. Not great. One of the questions and it’s been amazingly consistent, I’ve asked a question of groups around the world at this stage of the game and in just about every industry, when we go in and we’re working with groups, I oftentimes ask “How many people here have ever had a great manager, a great leader, a great coach, a great mentor, in your life?”
Sean Johnson: I’ve been at a couple of seminars when you’ve asked that. The answers are pretty astounded. They’re very moving.
David Naylor: You’re right, so what happens is, there’s not a lot of answers. What you’ll find is that in any group, if you ask that question, you’ll have roughly about 10% of the people who will actually put their hand up when asked, “Who here has had a great coach, mentor, in your life? Somebody who’s, you know, fundamentally changed who you are today as an individual?”
So about 10% and it’s, and it’s pretty consistent from company to company, country to country and industry to industry. To your point, for that 10% when you ask them, “Tell us about that person?” and the stories that they come back with, you see it’s a heartfelt, you know, “This person, they changed the entire course of my career.”
Sean Johnson: They get very emotional.
David Naylor: Oh, absolutely. They feel a lifelong commitment to this individual, even if it might have been somebody who 25 years ago they worked for when they were just starting out in their career or something like that. You listened to them as they talk about this person and it’s almost like they’re talking about, these conversations happened yesterday and so the legacy that that person left with them is very lasting and very alive in their mind.
Sean Johnson: They say like things like, “They made me believe in myself when I didn’t and they changed who I was as a person. They pushed me to be better,” and all those kinds of things.
David Naylor: So the stories are incredible that you hear. I was with an organization here not too long ago, one of our technology clients and their chief marketing officer was in the room.
I asked that question and she was one of the people, she put up her hand and she said, “I just graduated from college, so here I am in my very first role out of college. I had my first big project that I was really kind of in charge of. We were doing a direct mail campaign.” So they had a mail drop of, I think she said it was like 300,000 pieces of mail that they were dropping. So she had worked with all the respective parties internally. She had pulled it all together.
They had an edgy ad agency put together the mail piece that was going out and it was printed and all ready to go. And she said on the night before we were going to do the mail drop, she goes, “I happened to grab one of those mail pieces and I looked at it and I realized that the 800 number that we had printed on these 300,000 pieces of mail, was wrong. It was literally like my world fell out from underneath me. I’m sitting there and I’m thinking like all of my hopes, all of my dreams have just been crushed. One of the hardest things I ever had to do was to walk into my boss’s office with that mail piece in hand and point out the fact that I hadn’t caught it and the phone number was wrong. I fully expected that that was going to be my last day. My boss looked at it, recognized that the phone number was wrong and she did not skip a beat. She didn’t raise her voice, there was no anger, no nothing. She just looked at it and very calmly said, ‘Okay, well, what do you think we can do about this now? ‘I was just floored. We sat there and we brainstormed back and forth and ultimately one of us came up with the idea of, ‘Well, I wonder if somebody has that phone number?’ And so we decided to reach out to the telephone company to check and see. As it turns out, we were able to get the phone number, so we quickly secured the rights to that phone number and we were able to drop the mail piece and everything was fine. I’ve never forgotten that interaction and how differently that could have gone. I learned so much from that experience. There’s no way in the world that I would be today, the chief marketing officer for a major technology firm, had that conversation gone differently that day.”
Sean Johnson: If you think about, if it’s 10% of people, is it a coincidence that the chief marketing officer or the person in the c-suite that’s been ultimately incredibly successful, obviously was one of those people that raised their hand and said, “Yeah, I had a great mentor”? Probably not.
David Naylor: I don’t think so either because the reality is very few people are blessed enough to have perfect parents and perfect teachers and perfect influencers all the way through their life. By the time they come out into the professional environment, they’re perfectly wired. Very few people are fortunate enough to have all of those stars. So, having that person by your side at some stage, I think you’re right. Look at the ranks of the people who become professional athletes, for example.
Sean Johnson: Oh, there’s always a story.
David Naylor: Oh my goodness, and you look at the environment that these folks came out of and 99% of the people that come out of that environment end up with lives that are significantly worse. Yet there’s that one person who somehow managed to rise above and has built a successful athletic career. When you listen to their stories, they always talk about that teacher, that coach, that one individual who made a difference. I was watching, I think it was one of the 30 for thirties sports on ESPN and Herschel Walker was on it. He was talking about his background and he’s talking about, “I was bullied, I was an overweight kid and people picked on me and I was bullied,” all this kind of stuff, and he literally talked about there was that one coach. He said, “He didn’t look at me as the fat kid. Just the way that individual interacted with me, it caused me to begin to do different things in my life. And thus…”
Sean Johnson: I felt great.
David Naylor: Right. So I think you’re 100% correct. I think there’s very few people that rise to greatness that did not have at least one person in their lineage that helped them to begin to dial that combination and to get out of their own way.
Sean Johnson: Yeah and yet in the business world, 90% of people…
David Naylor:…don’t have it. How sad is that? I don’t think it’s for lack of wanting it. There’s just so few of those people that are out there that are really capable of having that level of influence. Even though people want it, it’s sort of like looking for a needle in a haystack. So even if they’re looking for it, they’re likely not going to find it. They may not even have an awareness high enough to be looking for.
Sean Johnson: Yeah, sure and like we talked about, a lot of people just haven’t taken their guard down too and that’s a part of it. So if 90% of the people in the business world have not had a great mentor, a great leader, a great manager. I’ve got to imagine that’s causing some problems.
David Naylor: Everything is cause and effect in the universe, you know?
Sean Johnson: What’s coming out as a result of that?
David Naylor: Well, you know, you look at many of the biggest challenges that when we go into organizations around the world and we see, you see the same consistent problems come up and it ties back here. You see organizations struggle with agility to move the way they need to move in this disruption economy that we’re in right now. You’re seeing the kind of the old line, traditional businesses, really struggling with these technology upstarts and things like that.
That’s a direct outgrowth of the fact that they have not created an agile workforce because they haven’t coached and mentored these people the right ways.
Sean Johnson: That’s a mental block for them.
David Naylor: Exactly. So, that’s a huge problem. The lack of buy-in that organizations get, so when they’re trying to drive change, trying to implement a new strategy. They’re trying to down more aggressive goals or shift the direction that they’re trying to move in and they feel that organizational drag, the resistance to that.
That’s a direct outgrowth of a lack of coaching and mentoring within their organization. There’s been a huge amount of research over the last handful of years about, costs of low engagement in organizations, and it’s into the billions of dollars that organizations lose every year because they don’t have engaged employees.
They’ve got people who are coming in and basically focusing on “what’s the least I need to do today so I don’t get fired.” So, that disengagement level, direct outgrowth of a lack of coaching and mentoring in the organization.
Sean Johnson: Yeah. Well, there’s the saying that, “People don’t leave a company, they leave a boss.”
David Naylor: Exactly and that goes to the turnover. I can’t even tell you the number of times that business executives who will come to us and say, “Hey, do you do a class on leading millennials?” because they’ve got this perception that the millennial generation lacks loyalty and leaves organizations all the time.
We can’t get these people to stick with us and we’re spending, we spent a lot of money to teach these people how to be successful within the role, and then two years later they’re gone. You know? Millennials are as loyal as any other generation to great leaders.
What millennials are less tolerant of than any other generation before is weak managers. So, it’s that lack of coaching and mentoring. If you’ve got a millennial who is in an environment where there’s opportunity, where they’re learning, they’re growing, they’re becoming better as an individual, they’re being able to be successful within their role. They feel more mentally engaged. They’re just as loyal as any other generation before.
Sean Johnson: I think the difference, we’ve talked about this, you and I before, the lower tolerance is also just a direct result of: they have more options now.
David Naylor: Yeah.
Sean Johnson: It used to be, you lived in a certain city and there was three, four, five major employers, and that was that. Right? Now with remote work and all that kind of stuff, you could work for any company in any country. So the tolerance of a poor manager and leader is much less cause I think that’s a part of it is, whether it’s consciously or subconsciously, that’s what they’re looking for.
That’s what millennials are looking for. But if they’re not finding it quickly, they’re going to go somewhere else where they might be able to find it. If they don’t find it there, they’ll go somewhere else.
David Naylor: That’s exactly right. So again, it ties back to that fundamental problem of a lack of adequate coaching and mentoring. Succession planning, you know, organizations struggle in terms of having that talent pipeline that they need, or bench strength in the organization. The only way you develop bench strength is by coaching, mentoring, by developing individuals and then creating an environment where people want to stay and grow within the organization. This is particularly true in certain industries that we work in, the lack of knowledge transfer that they face.
The baby boom generation is getting to a point where they’re actively moving into that retirement mode. They have gathered up all of this organizational knowledge through their course of their careers.
There’s been a really unsuccessful process of transferring that organizational knowledge. So as these people walk out the door, they’re taking that organizational knowledge with them and that’s another huge issue that is created by a fundamental lack of coaching and mentoring.
Sean Johnson: Oh, sure. I mean, with the baby boomers, you have massive, massive numbers of people that are going off into retirement. And then if you’re also struggling to hang on to millennials for more than a year or two, how can you possibly, it’s a ticking time bomb.
David Naylor: Right. So, all that knowledge, the wisdom, the insights, the experience that was gained, vaporized. So, you stop and think about this from an organizational perspective, really so many of the biggest issues they face, the root cause of that is that lack of coaching and mentoring.
Sean Johnson: Yeah. It seems to ripple into a lot of areas. So if there is this lack of coaching and mentoring, why are there so few great coaches and mentors?
David Naylor: Part of it’s a legacy problem. If you think about it, if only 10% of people have you ever had a great coach and mentor in their past
Sean Johnson: Most don’t even know what it looks like.
David Naylor: Right. So how do you replicate something that you have no picture of what it even looks like? So I think a lot of it stems from there. The other thing is that like anything else, any other skillset, you have to practice it to get good at it. I don’t think a) that people have a clear enough picture of what it really looks like to be a great coach and mentor and b) they don’t practice coaching and mentoring well enough to ever really get good at it.
I think those two things create that kind of toxic combination that just becomes a very destructive cycle in organizations.
Sean Johnson: Sure. So, what keeps people from practicing? If deliberate practice, which I think everybody would agree, is a huge part of becoming a great coach and mentor at mastering anything really, for coaching and mentoring specifically, why aren’t more people practicing?
David Naylor: It’s an interesting question. I was talking to a VP of sales in one of our financial services clients, just last week.
It was actually you kind of a very similar topic. As she and I were talking, she asked me, “Why is it that so many people struggle as sales managers, as sales leaders, and we promote people who are great salespeople to become great sales leaders. But yet, for whatever reason, they never seem to make that transition or rarely seem to make that transition well.” I asked her, “Well, first and foremost, why do you promote your strongest salespeople to be sales managers and sales leaders?”
She said, “Well, it’s because we’re hoping they’re going to duplicate themselves. That they’ll teach other people how to be great salespeople,”
Sean Johnson: Yeah, “That guy’s great, or that girl is great. I want 10 more of them.”
David Naylor: Right, exactly. So they’re hoping that that person will duplicate themselves. I said, “How many of those people that you promote do you think can really put their finger on why they were great?” And she gives me this kind of stunned look, and she goes, “Probably not too many.” I said,” so, stop and think about it, what really made them great? That they learn skill sets that others hadn’t learned. So let’s say they try to teach those people ‘just do this,’ but the person doesn’t do it and they don’t know, “Well, okay, well how do I get them to do it? You know, do I micromanage them? Cause when somebody told me to do it, I just did it.” So part of what stops somebody from becoming a great coach and mentor is first and foremost, they can’t really put their finger on what made them great in the role in the first place. If they can’t define that, how in the world can we expect them to replicate that in others? So now it goes back to what we talked about in the beginning of our conversation today. What made them great in the role when you’re really netted out, and I don’t care what role it is, right? Regardless of whether they were in an ops role, an engineering role, a customer service role, a sales role, they worked in a warehouse, it doesn’t matter. You pick any role. What really made them great in the role? It really comes down to just two things: they understood and they focused on the high payoff activities and they were able to move past those mental roadblocks. So they were willing to be accountable, they were willing to be open minded and learn what they needed to learn to get good at those skill sets that align with the high path activities.
They were willing to practice them enough, so they had that mental resilience. They had enough self-motivation to keep them moving forward even when they ran into resistance and issues and they weren’t ruled by their fears and comfort zones. So, if you put together that right set of thoughts and beliefs, that right level of Motivational Intelligence in an individual and then you create the clarity around the skillsets.
That’s what creates a peak performer in anything. So if they don’t understand that, it’s like asking somebody to go in and do brain surgery when they have absolutely no understanding of medicine.
Sean Johnson: Yeah. Here’s a scalpel, go figure it out.
David Naylor: Yeah, in a million years, you’d never say that to somebody. You’d never pick some random person sitting in the airport lobby and say, “Oh, you’re going to fly the plane today, it’s your turn.” In a million years, we’d never do that. But yet, we do that for people in management leadership roles all the freaking time.
Sean Johnson: Yeah, that’s crazy. Alright. So, they don’t understand what made them successful. They don’t understand those two things. What else?
David Naylor: If you stop and you think about, why do people do anything? People do things because they believe that “If I do this, it’s going to make a difference.” So, we manage our time really based upon, “I believe that if I take this chunk of time and I do this with it, it’s going to get me some desirable outcome,” kind of thing.
Sean Johnson: Yeah. People want an ROI on their time.
David Naylor: Exactly and so I think you step back and you ask yourself “If I really truly believe that by spending time in coaching and mentoring by taking the time to teach this person, by taking the time to have that conversation about with that individual about that mental roadblock that’s holding them back, if I really believe that that’s going to make all the difference in the world for this person, why the hell would I do anything else?” I think what happens for a lot of individuals is they don’t really believe that. We talked earlier about how many people have ever had a great coach and a mentor, somebody who really, truly made a difference in their life, that question. Oftentimes, I’ll do a follow-up question and I’ll ask the groups, I’ll say, “Have you ever thought of yourselves in those terms? Have you ever really thought, looked in the mirror and thought to yourself that you could have that level of impact on another individual in their lives, that you could influence them as much or more than anyone else in their life, including their parents?”
It’s one of those, you kind of see them, they almost leaned back in the chair like, because they never thought of themselves in those terms. So if we don’t even give ourselves permission to begin to think of ourselves from that perspective, that you really think that we could make that level of a difference in person, we won’t give ourselves permission to even go out and begin to practice those things. So it’s being able to quantify what made them successful. It’s beginning to believe that, “I’m worthy, I can really do that, I can make that kind of a difference in another person’s life, I know that.” I think that is decidedly the second thing that keeps people from practicing becoming a great coach and mentor.
Sean Johnson: It makes so much sense and it’s just like anything, if you don’t see yourself as that person, you’re never going to act like that person. You’re never going to become that person.
David Naylor: A person who becomes a doctor becomes a doctor because they thought about becoming a doctor. A person who becomes an entrepreneur becomes an entrepreneur because they thought about becoming an entrepreneur. How many people really think about becoming a great coach and mentor?
Sean Johnson: Yeah, not many. So, they need to understand those two pieces of, “what made me successful?” They need to believe that they are that person, and that the time that they invest is going to, they’re going to see a return on it. It’s a financial return in terms of career promotion or “my team’s going to do better” and all those things, but also I guess, that’s kind of the logical reward. But I imagine the personal kind of emotional reward of it is just as much, if not more.
David Naylor: Oh my goodness. Well, yeah, you’re right. You stop and you think about the emotional compensation of making that kind of a difference in a person’s life and watching, being able to sit back and think about where somebody was two years ago versus where they are now, or, five years later, you’re watching how their careers progressed and to recognize that you played a role in helping that person become who they are today, secondary, really only to be a parent, is the satisfaction of knowing that, you know, “I made a difference there.” So to be able to lay your head on a pillow and to know that in your heart, that’s pretty emotionally validating.
Sean Johnson: Oh my God. Yeah. I mean, a few years ago. I have a younger brother that was, we’re huge basketball family. He was coming into his junior year as a sophomore, he’s on the JV team, last kid on the bench, like didn’t see any time, never saw the floor. I remember I would drive him out to summer league games before his junior year, and we would just kind of have chats going out, you know, “how you feeling about it” and things like that.
Kind of little things about like, “Why do you think Michael Jordan was so good? Why do you think Kobe’s so good? Why do you think LeBron’s so good?” You could see kind of like week to week and watching his summer league games that because of where he was on the bench, he was coming in so timid, he was getting the ball, and he’s got an open shot and he’s a great shooter, but he’s hesitant, he’s scared, and so he passed the ball off like, “Oh, that’s not me. I’m not the scorer,” and you could kind of slowly see throughout the summer, like, okay, he’s starting to get more comfortable and, and take more shots and score more points. He came into his junior year, ended up with a starting spot, lead score on the team. He put in all the work, but it was such a cool experience for me to watch that evolution.
David Naylor: There you go. You’re channeling, your Phil Jackson.
Sean Johnson: Exactly, the Zen master. That’s obviously a very small example, but there’s nothing quite like that. Exactly. So what else stops somebody from becoming a great coach or mentor?
David Naylor: Well, all right, so you know, they can’t quantify what made them successful, they don’t, they don’t believe that they can really make a difference. We talked earlier, they just, fundamentally, they don’t know how, so, people, if they don’t know how to do something, then, you know, inherently they shy away from those things that they don’t know how.
So, I think very rarely in organizations, oftentimes we promote our strongest performers with the hope that they’re going to duplicate themselves, but we never teach them how to duplicate themselves. We never give them the tools to really be able to do it.
So, you know, in a lot of ways what organizations do is it’s sort of like teaching a kid how to swim by throwing them out in the middle of the pond. You know what I’m saying? “We’re going to throw you into 10 feet of water, swim your way out,” you know?
I think organizations do that all the time. They promote people, they throw them into the middle of the pond and say, “Okay, now figure it out,” but they never take the time to really teach them the “how” of it.
So, they don’t equip people to really understand about, well, “how do you define high payoff activities? How do you communicate them? How do you set the right expectations around them? How do you create accountability to those high payoff activities? How do you properly teach them? How do you reinforce that?” You know, they never teach people that. So they never teach them the coaching side of it and they sure as heck never teach them the mentoring side of it. They don’t teach them, what really are those five core areas that either enable or disable a person? How do you identify? What are the mental roadblocks in the people on your team? What are those tools that you can use to help people to move past those roadblocks? The hardest transition that anybody will ever make in their career is that transition from being an individual contributor to now being a manager or leader of a team because the skills that caused them to be a great individual contributor are absolutely 100% different than the skills that will make them a great leader.
Sean Johnson: It’s a completely different job.
David Naylor: Right. Every other transition they make, the skill sets kind of progress and they scale. But going from individual contributor to manager, leader, it’s like you need an entirely new toolbox.
Sean Johnson: Yeah. Well, and I feel like that’s probably why so many of them, they get promoted and they try to use the skills and the toolbox that made them successful as an individual contributor. So they’re just basically just trying to do five people’s jobs.
David Naylor: “If Jimmy won’t do it, I’ll do it for him,” and I mean, we see that in sales organizations all the time. The sales manager, they have their salespeople who go, “You run the meetings, you find the opportunities, I’ll come in and I’ll close the deals, because I don’t have a freaking clue how to teach you to close a deal,” so…
Sean Johnson: I’ll just do it, its easier.
David Naylor: So often you see people, they get promoted into a management leadership role and they just become the senior “most doer” on the team because they don’t understand how to help anybody else become a doer.
Sean Johnson: All right. So they don’t understand what made them successful. They don’t believe they’re going to get a return on the time investment, that it’s worth their time. They don’t know how, anything else?
David Naylor: Yeah, I mean, I think again, going back to what we talked about earlier, when we talked about high payoff activities. You made the comment, “Well, if there’s 76 different things, what do I focus on”
Sean Johnson: It’s impossible to.
David Naylor: I can’t prioritize. I think that same thing applies to somebody as a coach and mentor, is that if they don’t have a framework of what to focus on, so if don’t have that framework of high path activities, coaching becomes a random walk in the park. I’ve got no idea of what to teach to the who and when. So that’s totally random. God forbid we, now we go down the mental pathway of, they’re looking at those thoughts and beliefs in the mental roadblocks of somebody, you know, so, if I don’t understand, you know, what is the combination? What’s the mix that I need to focus on with this person versus that person again, I won’t do anything. I will by default go back to the tyranny of the urgent. I’ll focus on everything else because that’s pulling on me more than, the ambiguity of this side of things.
They’ve got to have clarity in terms of what really is the individual development plan that I’m working with this individual? What are those skillset pieces? What are the mindset pieces that I need to focus on with this person and in what priority or what sequence?
Cause then with that, now they got clarity, you know, so now you’ve got a plan or a process that you’re progressively working with this individual on your team versus that one.
Sean Johnson: Yeah, you need a plan. So if we put all those things together and we overcome those couple of obstacles, do we have everybody practicing to be a great coach and mentor, or is there anything that’s still holding them back?
David Naylor: Well, if you go into organizations and you ask managers, “Why don’t you coach and mentor?” Most of them, when you ask that question, there’s no way that they’re going to point to those first four things. They’re not going to have an awareness level to say, “I don’t know what made me successful, so I’m going to duplicate it.” They don’t have an awareness high enough to say, “Well, I don’t really believe I can make a difference.” You’ll never hear them say that. You’ll never hear them admit that they don’t know how, or own up to the fact that they have no idea what to focus on. So you’ll never hear them saying any of those things. What you’ll always hear them say: “I don’t have time.”
Sean Johnson: Hmm.
David Naylor: That is the biggest excuse that people use is “I want to,” they’ll say, “but I don’t have time. I’ve got too many meetings I’ve got to do, I’ve got too many fires that I got to fight. I’ve got too many projects that I’m working on. I’ve got too many reports that I’ve got to do.” Everything else is pulling on their time. And thus, “I want to do it, but the organization isn’t allowing me to.”
Sean Johnson: The irony of it is, “I have too many fires to put out, I have too many projects,” Those problems are solved if you are actually coaching.
David Naylor: People hate to admit that they’re their own worst enemy. People hate it. They hate to accept the fact that the problems and the challenges that frustrate them the most in life are probably their own creation. But the reality is that you know that is true. If people earnestly believe that something is going to get them a substantial return, they’ll put time into it. They’ll make the time. It’s like, nobody has time to work out. It’s like, “I don’t have time to go to the gym.” But amazingly, some people figure out how to find the time. It’s not that they’re markedly less productive than other people, or, that their careers struggle or something like that. But, you know, mentally they put weight on it and thus they do it and they still figured out how to get everything else done. It was somebody rule, I don’t remember who it was, but they said how work expands or contracts for the amount of time that we allot for it, you know? I think that the same thing is true for coaching and mentoring. If we don’t allot time, everything else will eat in, and…
Sean Johnson: yeah, it’ll expand.
David Naylor: But the other thing too, is that I think part of what perpetuates the, “I don’t have time,” excuse is that people look at coaching and mentoring as being an event, right? They look at like “I’ve gotta be able to sit down with this person for an hour a day,” or those kinds of things.
Sean Johnson: Yeah, they view it as like a meeting.
David Naylor: Right and that’s not really what it is. If you really step back and you understand the nuance of coaching and mentoring, coaching and mentoring really comes down to those moments that we have with individuals.
It comes down to those more individual conversations. It’s not about events, it’s about conversations .As we’re working with leaders, we talk about leadership moments and those leadership moments they present themselves in every conversation that we ever have with anybody. In those leadership moments, it’s the moment in a conversation where you have that opportunity to influence that person’s thoughts and beliefs, so you can influence those thoughts and beliefs in a way that where you’re maybe tying them more to the vision or the purpose of their role, where you’re reinforcing the culture that you’re trying to perpetuate on a team, where you’re helping them to see the significance of something they do or recognizing them for something that they’ve accomplished or where you’re challenging a limiting perspective that they’ve locked on to. It’s that moment in time where you’ve got that window to influence what that person is thinking and believing and it’s not an event. It’s a few second conversation.
Sean Johnson: You used the example before of a no excuses policy. That’s a huge influence on how that person is thinking and what they’re believing about it is, what exactly is the problem and what do you recommend we should do about it?
That’s not a set meeting on the schedule. That’s the person coming to you and saying, “Hey, there’s, there’s a problem.” That’s happening in passing or they’re knocking on your door.
David Naylor: It’s a conversation in the hallway. It’s somebody’s poking their head into an office, that’s what people have to understand about coaching and mentoring, it’s not an event. It’s those leadership moments that they’re really looking for. So my son’s in college. One of the classes he has to take is an American history class. So he had taken some exam in this class early on in a week, and I was traveling out with clients.
So later in the week, I’m talking to him one night from the hotel, and, you know, we’re just kinda getting caught up and stuff. So I asked him, “Hey, Ben, how did you do in that American history exam that you know that you had to take early in the week?”
He goes, you know, I, “I got a 78 on that test,” right. And I said, “Oh, geez, Ben, a 78? What happened? All through high school and stuff, you were getting high eighties and nineties in history. A 78, what happened?” he’s a scenario guy’s dad. He goes, “That the test was on the Puritans, what the hell do I need to know about the Puritans? What difference is that going to make in my life? This isn’t important,” So basically he’s justifying why, you know, it was okay, you get a 78 on a test. Cause it wasn’t an important topic anyway. So I’m on the other end of the phone right and I get up on the horse right? I said, “No, the Puritans played a huge role in the shaping of our nation. The reason we became an economic superpower in the world is because our culture was built on the Puritan work ethic,” you know, so I’m off on the horse. Meanwhile, I’m sitting there on my computer and the reality is, I don’t really care who the Puritans are, but it was a really interesting thing that happened because the more I got up in the horse about the importance of the Puritans, my son goes from, “Well, Dad, why the hell do I gotta know about this? To “I didn’t really study very much for that test. The tests I’ve done better on because I put a lot more effort into studying.” So he went from basically pointing his fingers outside of himself, saying “This isn’t important, why do I need to know this?” to pointing his fingers at himself and being accountable. That was one of those leadership moments. It was in that window in conversation where I was able to influence what he was thinking.
Every time we talked to somebody and it doesn’t matter who we’re talking to, if we’re talking to our spouse, our significant other, whether we’re talking to our children, whether we’re talking to the men and women on our team, every time we’re in a conversation with somebody, we’re always given at least one of those leadership moments.
That’s that coaching and mentoring moments. It’s not a question of not having time because we’re having those conversations through the course of every single day and already having the conversation. It’s about having the awareness to be able to look for those leadership moments and leverage them. It’s the aggregation, that kind of accumulation of those leadership moments over time, where you begin to be able to see and make a significant difference, a significant difference in terms of one’s understanding of their high pay off activities, understanding what are the best practices of how we execute those high pay off activities and our ability to move past those mental roadblocks that hold them back. When you look at the best of all coach and mentors, they recognize that in one singular conversation, I’m not going to categorically change all of these things in this individual.
Sean Johnson: It’s not going to happen in two minutes.
David Naylor: Right. But it’s in the accumulation of those leadership moments that we can have a very significant impact on somebody.
Sean Johnson: Yeah. Well, I think that’s a perfect place for us to end. Do you have any closing thoughts? Anything you want to share before we sign off?
David Naylor: I think the biggest thing is to recognize that great coaches and mentors are not born. They’re developed and each of us has the ability to become a great coach and mentor, each of us. We have the ability to forever change all of those people around us, to shift a person’s perspective, to help them to have greater clarity on what are the key things to focus on. We all have within us the ability to do that. We just have to give ourselves permission to practice it enough to get good at. And quite candidly, there is nothing that we will do that will reward us more in life, not just in our careers, but in our personal lives as well, then to practice and refine that ability because it will enrich every relationship that we have around us.
Sean Johnson: Dave, thanks for the chat. Everybody, thanks for listening.
*Transcription was edited for clarity
Show Notes: The 5 Don’ts of Coaching and Mentoring
0:00-1:05- Intro into coaching and mentoring
1:40- the difference between coaching and mentoring
6:35- what coaches and mentors mean to different people
12:07- High payoff activities
15:45- Coaching isn’t just for sports
17:21- what makes a mentor effective?
20:30- People know what to do and how to do it, but sometimes are missing the drive..
21:04- How do you help someone overcome mental barriers?
28:06- The mentoring process
35:54- Helping guide people to come up with solutions on their own
40:45- everyone can benefit from a coach or mentor no matter the position they’re in
52:37- not enough people have solid coaches and mentors
1:03:08- The root cause of problems in the workplace
1:03:29-why is there a lack of coaching and mentoring?
1:17:12- What can stop someone from becoming a great coach or mentor?
1:24:52- The biggest excuse people use..
1:27:38- How people incorrectly view coaching and mentoring
1: 32:54- Conclusion