Ep #88: Coaching, Managing and Leading as a Female Entrepreneur

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There’s a distinct difference between coaching, managing and leading. Leading is about the vision. Managing is about the business. Coaching is about the individual. In a small business, when you’re the founder, you don’t have to be great at all three – but you have to do all three!

What you’ll find in this episode:

  1. The difference between coaching, managing and leading.
  2. Which of the three seems to be the most difficult for people to master.
  3. The three different levels of performance that employees fall into.
  4. The “truth” that Kris denied for years.
  5. What the “superpower” is for people who are in leadership.

Featured on the Show and Other Notes:

  • I’ll do a follow up podcast on coaching – what a coaching conversation is and how to conduct one.
  • I have made it my mission to prove the power of one thriving woman and give a voice to the voiceless problem that most female entrepreneurs face. You are a powerful and effective leader because of all of the things that are intrinsic to you as a woman, and not in spite of them. I want to change the dialogue surrounding women in leadership so that more and more women are confident and have the resources to reach the CEO milestone in their business. Go here for more information on the How to CEO program.
  • Let me know what questions you have or what you think at hello@krisplachy.com
  • Follow me on Instagram and send me a DM.
  • I’d be honored, if you find this podcast of value, if you would write a review. Then DM me on Instagram or Facebook or email me at hello@krisplachy.com and let me know it was you. Then we’ll send you my favorite books list!

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Podcast Transcript

Hey, I’m Kris Plachy, host of the Lead Your Team podcast. Running a million dollar business is not easy, and whether you’re just getting started with building your team or you’ve been at this for a while, I’m going to bring you honest, specific, and clear practices you can use right now, today, to improve how well you lead your team. Let’s go ahead and get started.

Hey, there. Welcome, welcome. So nice for you to be here. I hope you are all finding yourselves happy in this fall season. I woke up this morning, and it was finally cool, and I had the front door screen open and the back door screen and my windows open in my office. And there isn’t any smoke. So happy. It’s just lovely. So I hope wherever you are, you are also finding it to be a lovely day.

I wanted to talk with you today about … I think I talk about this kind of off and on, but I don’t know that I’ve ever actually done like a full-on podcast focused on coaching. I want to talk about coaching as a leader versus being a coach. Like I am a coach, and I coach people on how to be better leaders and how to kind of work through their own challenges, and I am trained as that. But I also am a leadership coach, and I coach specifically on leadership skill, and three, or C, I also have been and continue to be in leadership roles. And I do consider myself a coaching leader, and not everybody is, and that’s okay. I do really consider myself that, so I want to talk more about that.

We hear a lot of words sort of interchangeably used with the role of the person who’s in charge. Right? So you’re a woman. You have a business. You are the CEO, the founder. You’re also likely someone’s manager, and you’re also someone’s coach. And those roles have very distinct results, I think, that we want to make sure we’re clear about. And I think it’s important, not like you would say to someone, “Okay, I’m switching from leader to manager to coach.” But more just so you’re clear about your approach. Okay?

When we’re really in the leadership space, what we’re doing is we’re saying, “This is my vision. This is what I want to cultivate. I’m going to hold space for what’s possible for my business, for what’s possible for this team, and we’re going to set the course. I’m going to hire the team and hire the people and create the systems to deliver on the vision.” Right? A manager is the one who kind of puts the boxes and the rules around all of that to make sure that the vision is achieved, but also to kind of make sure the vision and the tactics of achieving it don’t skid off the rails, so we don’t go outside of expectations. We don’t go outside of values. We don’t break a lot of policy or things that would shut the business down. So in many ways, leadership is like kind of in that idealistic, inspirational, ideating space and managing is more head down, linear, specific, and not, I don’t want to say rigid in a way that sounds negative, but there’s clearly defined distinctions about where we, like lines that we manage within.

Then there’s coaching, and coaching is really how we help people in the business use the policies and the processes and the expectations and the values, so the whole leadership team operating system that I teach. It’s how we use all of that, plus their skills, plus their experience to achieve the vision and also to fulfill, which I know you’ve heard me say, the promise of their position. When we write a job description and we write the key result and we write the key objectives and we write the key responsibilities, we have committed to a promise of a position, and the coach role’s job is to hold the promise of the position and also hold the promise of the employee’s abilities and find where they can marry and match so that we can deliver on a goal.

Leadership is about the vision, management is about the business, and coaching is about the individual. And I do think in a small business, when you are the founder-CEO, you have to do all three. Now, do you have to be great at all three? No. I think that each of you, if I had a chance to talk to you in person, you would tell me, I think I’m more of the leader person. I’m more of the manager person. I’m more of the coach person. I don’t think there’s a right or wrong. I think that, for me, that’s part of why I think I’m so drawn to teaching you how to manage because that was the hardest part for me to learn.

And I watched that it is also the hardest part for so many of my clients. So many of my clients have clear vision. They know what they want to put in the world, but oy! Trying to get the systems in place and getting the … Just those conversations and dealing with the management part is really tough. And then not really knowing the difference between managing and coaching I think is tough for people, and we blur lines there.

And here’s how I like to think about it. I have sort of this employee continuum that’s always in my mind. And whenever we hire a new person into a business, our job is to properly cultivate that role, so we hire them, and we have like a 30, 60, 90 day plan. And we exercise a lot of coaching to prepare that person for the success in their role. So everybody who comes in has the structure created by managing. Right? But the conversations are very coach-driven. They’re very development. They’re like, have you tried this? What did you learn when you did this? How do you feel about that? Where are you getting stuck? What are you enjoying? What is difficult? Right? We’re really helping to get ourselves and them acquainted with the role and each other and all of it.

And we do that for the first 90 days, let’s say, and then we start to see after, let’s say, 90 to 120 days. By the time someone’s in the position for about six months, we have a pretty good grasp on them. We start to see them typically go in one of three directions. They either are a top performer. They’re exceptional. They’re off the charts. Right? Like where did this person come from? So we put those top performers and we think about them as kind of skyrockets, right? Like going up here. What we do with a high performer is we coach them. We coach them for opportunity, for success, for growth, and really, for whatever it is, too, that they’re driving towards. So when we’re coaching, we’re really engaging with their goals. What do you want to achieve? You’ve really proven yourself. You’re really demonstrating a lot of competency. Here’s what’s possible. Right? Because top performers tend to be very interested in that.

Then we also have what I call reliable Rebeccas or steady Eddies, and these are people who show you that they are going to always be even. They are your even keel. Keep the boat straight. They don’t really have any interest in being the rock star, but they’re also not a poor performer. They’re very great. Every business needs them. What we do with them is we coach them, but we coach them for engagement. How are you? What can I do for you? We see if they might like an opportunity to mentor someone else. We see what kinds of development they want for themselves. We ask them things like what do you enjoy about your schedule? We really want to make sure that we are building collaboratively with them an environment where they’re going to enjoy the role because they’re clearly very happy, and they’re good.

And then we have low performers. And usually, by about six months, we start to see that. And when we see that, we know that we have a problem. And remembering that what we’ve done all along up until this point is coached. Everybody’s really going to get the same support. But then when we move out of that and we really identify that we’re hitting some low performance consistently, now we manage, and we drop coach. Now we get much more directive, much more specific, much more clear, and much more manager-led. Right? Coaching is a collaborative, oftentimes employee-led conversation. Low performance requires us to really step into that manager role, which of course we don’t love. Right? Who wants to do that? It’s a bummer.

So when we have identified that, now we have a sense of, okay, so what do I do? And I’ve been told this for years, and I remember also not believing it, but it really is so true. When you have a top producer, performer, somebody who’s just exceptional, and even your steady Eddies, reliable Rebeccas, they should be getting the majority of your time, not the low performers. Now, the low performers tend to eat up a lot of our time because they do weird things and they cause problems. And so we end up being very consumed by them, which is disturbing for us because it makes us like our job less. And so that’s, again, part of why I teach in How To CEO, why you absolutely have to have a whole coaching process, feedback process in place so that you’re not only swooping in on the low performers and then kind of ignoring everybody else. That isn’t going to help your business. Okay?

So we need to make sure that if you are finding this low performer in your business is gobbling up your time, what I want you to do, at least initially, is not … Don’t stop dealing with that, but integrate more time with the people who are really delivering. It’s what we know to be true. If you’re benefiting from these people on your team who are doing really well, they should benefit from your attention. And I think a lot of us think, “Oh, well, they don’t want my attention. I’m just in the way. I’m a distraction. They don’t need to hear from me.” And I disagree completely. People who do really well like to just be told they’re doing well. They like attention. They like feedback. They like to have a manager or a boss or CEO notice them. Even if your one-on-ones are, “How’s it going?” without any agenda, although I do recommend one, but a touch point, a connection, an opportunity for them to be seen.

Because what can happen is they can start to feel unrecognized, under-appreciated. And we don’t want that, especially if you’re busy dealing with a low performer. Everybody knows who your low performer is. You’re not hiding it from anybody. Right? They just want to know that you’re dealing with it. So when we think about, I’m going to do another podcast that’s more specifically about how to actually coach, but this, I wanted to really lay the groundwork for what it is in comparison to managing and leading. And then, when do you use it?

And I hope what you heard me say is a lot of the time is coaching. We don’t coach people who have proven they don’t respond to coaching, which is the low performer, because we would have already been coaching them. Nah, I’m not coaching you. And we certainly don’t coach them when we’re about to fire them. They don’t care. It’s useless. They’re not going to hear you. Okay?

So I will do a follow-up podcast on actually coaching, like what is a coaching conversation and how to conduct one, which I think you’ll find pretty useful. Learning how to coach is a whole skill, just like learning how to manage. And I do believe that it’s a superpower for people who are in leadership to be good coaches. I think a lot of leaders are very good coaches just naturally. I think a lot of leaders are very good mentors and advisors. That’s different. A mentor is someone who really leverages their own experience to help you make decisions about yours, and an advisor is really someone who tells you what to do. A coach is someone who reveals to you what you really want and helps you come up with a plan to execute it.

I would certainly say in my coaching practice and in my business, myself and my coach team who works for me, we are a combination of coaches and advisors, so we will coach you when we see you really can’t even find your own way, to find it, and then we will also help you. We’ll give you some advising on what we have seen to be effective or not. And I think you need both, especially when you’re all alone as a female CEO.

Okay, so tune into the next one when it drops on how to coach and how to actually have that coaching conversation as a female entrepreneur. And as always, thanks for tuning in. We’ll talk to you again next time.

One more thing before you go. In a world of digital courses and online content, I like to work with my clients live because I know that when you have someone you can work with, ask questions of, and meet with, you’re so much more likely to get the success that you want. So head on over to HowToCEOLive.com to learn more about our very exciting, very exclusive program just for female entrepreneurs. We’ll see you there.

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