Huddle Up!

Go, Team

Are you a good coach? Don't be too quick to nod in the affirmative. Entrepreneurs, say the experts, often come into coaching with several strikes against them. "You can't do this if you have a need to be right; you must be open-minded," says Cheryl Richardson, former president of the International Coach Federation and author of Take Time for Your Life: A Personal Coach's Seven Step Program for Creating the Life You Want (Broadway Books). Of course entrepreneurs are strong-willed--that's part of the package--and that means you may have to work extra hard to coach right.

Strike two is that the surest way to derail even well-meaning coaching is by not committing the time needed, says Richardson. Time-pressed entrepreneurs, she says, are notorious for letting coaching meetings slip off their calendars. But even good intentions won't produce results if you don't commit the time.

"For coaching to bring benefits, you've got to be patient," says Chuck Popovich, a business professor at Robert Morris College in Moon Township, Pennsylvania. "You won't see results in 45 seconds."

Strike three is the fact that many entrepreneurs feel they have to act like a cop to successfully coach. Rich Russakoff, president of Bottom Line Consultants in Richmond, Virginia, and a coach for owners of small and mid-sized businesses, explains: "Too often, coaching happens only as a way to criticize an employee. But that's not being a coach; it's being a cop. A cop focuses on the past and finds fault. A coach focuses on the future and looks at past behavior only to find better ways to perform in the future. But many entrepreneurs think they're coaching when they're simply being cops."

Have you struck out? Even if you have, don't despair, because the coaching experts are quick to offer up the tips you need to coach more efficiently and effectively.

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This article was originally published in the December 1999 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Huddle Up!.

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