A Tale of Two Coaches: What Kind Are You?

There’s more to coaching than sharing your expertise. The way you communicate that expertise is as important as the knowledge itself.

How Your Leadership Is Impacted by the Way You Coach

Photo Courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/vm

Years ago I went golfing with my friend and colleague, Dr. Victor Oliver. I had played quite a bit as a teenager, but had set aside my clubs when I became an adult. At the age of forty-three I decided to take it up again.

I bought a new set of clubs, reviewed the rules, and even read a couple of golfing books. However, I was still lacking the one thing you must have to succeed at the game of golf: confidence.

I sliced my first drive, red-faced as the ball bounced into the tall grass and disappeared. Unfazed, Victor declared. “You have a great swing, Mike. You’re a natural. You’ll get the hang of this in no time.”

Rather than dwelling on my failed attempt, Victor’s assurance immediately turned my mind to the next shot. I couldn’t wait to take another swing.

After a few more shots, I was within striking distance of the green. As I approached the ball and began to setup for the shot, Victor gently interrupted me.

“For these kinds of shots, I always imagine I am sitting on the edge of a bar stool. I lean forward with my back straight and head down. Then I just take a nice, full swing … like this.”

“Got it,” I nodded. I then mimicked his stance, took a slow, steady swing, and put the ball right on the green, eight feet from the pin.

“Beautiful, Mike. I told you you were a natural.”

Over the next several years, I played golf with Victor numerous times. I always played my best when I was with him at my side. His gentle, reassuring voice gave me the one thing books, expensive clubs, and even lessons couldn’t: confidence.

I also occasionally played golf with another friend. I’ll call him Frank (not his real name). He was a good deal older than I, but a great golfer—even better than Victor. But the two were complete opposites when it came to coaching.

I still remember the last time I played with him. On hole number three, I sliced a drive into the deep rough. Certain it was unplayable, I dropped my club to the ground, and sighed.

“Well, that was a helluva shot,” Frank grumbled. “You didn’t finish your swing. You just kinda … kinda gave up on it.” He then frowned and snorted.

With that, he stepped up to the tee box and pinned his tee and ball to the ground in one seamless motion. Then, without so much as a practice swing, he blasted his ball straight down the middle of the fairway.

It was picture-perfect. Just like on TV. Speaking to no one in particular, he announced, “That’s how it’s done!”

He stood tall.

I felt small.

Unfortunately, this scenario was typical. Frank was always quick to point out my faults. If I happened to hit the ball well, he would say something like, “Well, you got lucky on that one, didn’t ya, kid?”

Not surprisingly, I always played my worst golf when I played with Frank. He chipped away at my confidence, and my performance unraveled as the game progressed. He made me want to quit.

In reflecting on these two different coaching styles, I realized I have a choice in how I lead.

I can either focus on what my teammates are doing right and thus increase their confidence, or I can focus on what they are doing wrong and thus increase their self-doubt. Both styles have an impact on their performance. And both have an impact on my effectiveness as a leader.

Question: What style do you use in coaching those you lead? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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  • http://elisafreschi.blogspot.com/ elisa freschi

    I agree with your point and personally I tend to work better with people who enhance my self-confidence. But coaching styles are to be adapted to the pupil/student and I know enough students who only start working when they are confronted with their inability to do something and tend to be “lazy” if one assures them of their faculties.

  • http://www.buckleadership.wordpress.com/ Justin Buck

    Great post, Mike! It can be easy to be “Frank”, teasing your coworkers or friends. It’s just a game, right? Cant they take a little ribbing? While these leaders might “drive excellence” and “demand the best,” they’re not capturing the hearts of their team members. And you’ve seen how people work (or play) when their hearts aren’t in it.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      So true. Frank’s style can work in the short-term, but it doesn’t produce healthy, long-term results.

      • http://www.buckleadership.wordpress.com/ Justin Buck

        Absolutely! The leader will be emboldened by what results he achieves and believe, when they crumble, that he has to push harder. When that doesnt work, he will invariably say that his team members arent talented, wheb the fact is that he has hidden the talebt of his team beneath a pile if shame, fear, and doubt.

  • Terri

    Thank You so very much for the post!!! That is exactly the direction that I am trying to go with so many hats I wear. My inner voice, teaching and my mothering style. Wow dropping the negative voice/coach is a challenge. I can be very sarcastic and it does no one any good! However, when I lead with people strengths and kindly guide in a positive manner to a positive action (not what they are not suppose to be doing) I get much better results. Thanks again for the analogy!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      You’re welcome, Terri. I’m glad you found it helpful. All the best to you as you lead and coach this year.

  • Joe Stickel


    Great post!!

    This can be applied to parenting as well as coaching in general. For instance, whenever my kids would bring home a report card, I’d first discuss the good grades…the A’s and B’s, complementing them and asking them why they thought they did so well. From there we would move on to the C’s and below. We’d talk about how these grades could be improved, but only after we discussed what they were doing right. I never felt that belittling my children did them any good. So far, out of four children, we have one Masters and three Bachelors Degrees.
    My youngest boy is a junior in college, and is pursuing a spot in dental

  • Lars Kristian Aasbrenn

    Thanks Michael. You’re a great story teller. I’ll keep this tale to remind me what kind of leader I would like to be, and what kind of people I like to be around.

  • Laurel Griffith

    This truth also extends to the way we parent our kids. Children respond to gentle encouragement and remember what they see us do long after they leave home. Thanks for the reminder of the parent and leader I want to be.

  • http://theordainedbarista.com/ Barry Hill

    The opening hook was FANTASTIC!

    “The way you communicate that expertise is as important as the knowledge itself.”

    So true!—I think I’ll tweet that!

  • rnschmidt

    This is a great post. I do wonder how your coaching style changes when confidence isn’t the key factor. For example, some people have too much confidence, but are just terrible at a given skill. Sometimes they are even blind to their inability. Would you advise positive reinforcement and confidence boosting here too?

  • christina parker brown

    I think this rings true with parenting as well. We all desire encouragement.

    • http://theordainedbarista.com/ Barry Hill

      Christina—I immediately thought of parenting as well! The most important “coach” your kids will ever have! Right? Well done, Christina!

      • http://www.apprenticeshipofbeinghuman.com/ Graham Scharf

        Yes. And the import is this: If you have a coach (parent) from birth who takes the demeaning approach, what effect will that have on the child and her view of the world? How different that child will be from the one who has an affirming coach (parent)!

        • http://theordainedbarista.com/ Barry Hill

          Graham—yes! And then the cycle continues—right?

          • http://www.apprenticeshipofbeinghuman.com/ Graham Scharf

            Yes, both for good and for ill. Martin Seligman has found that young children take on the “narrative style” of their primary care giver (usually mom). Children not only carry that narrative into life; they pass it on to their children. And so, as you said, the cycle continues.

          • http://theordainedbarista.com/ Barry Hill

            pretty sobering for us parents—huh? *gulp.

        • http://www.clayproductions.com/aaron/ Aaron Johnson

          So great read through this discussion. I’ll be watching my girls this weekend while my wife is on a retreat. This fires me up to pour out this kind of encouragement.

    • Cobi

      Yes! My first thought as well…

  • colbycm

    As a former high school coach, I can tell you that most of our young people haven’t a clue about the “good coach” in their lives. So many are beaten down or just ignored. When they get a chance to have someone build them up, they soar.
    As a leader in business, I’ve found that most of my employees react the same way. It’s amazing how they respond to good coaching, to good leadership.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      I’ve found the same thing. People are hungry for this kind of coaching!

  • Mark Blasini

    Well I hope it’s obvious now which type of coaching we should be using after reading this. I love how simply you make this distinction. All it takes is encouragement and direction, not criticism and dis-encouragement from doing something wrong. Everyone has his or her own goals, which is why he or she is doing the activity in the first place. The goal of the coach is to allow that person to achieve those goals – not to tell that person which goals he or she should be achieving. Great post, Michael!

  • http://www.facebook.com/Dick.Savidge Dick Savidge

    Thanks for the words. I was reminded of a coach in college who believed in belittling & bullying. By the time I left college I hated the word coach. To this day, that is a difficult word for me.

  • http://twitter.com/WhizDom313 Whiz Dom

    Great post! And how true! I believe in encouraging those around me and telling them not only when they’ve done a great job, but *how* they have. Sometimes I fall short because I’m a perfectionist, and I bet my tone or expression might be intimidating if something isn’t right, but I try to be self-aware and make sure I am at least intentionally trying to emphasize the positive to those and about those around me. Personally, as colbycm points out, we have all met people who beat us down, and it is precisely those experiences that inform the way we interact with others – if we can learn from their mistakes.

  • http://www.nathanmagnuson.com/ Nathan Magnuson

    Great illustrations, Michael! You make it easy for people to identify the attitude and behavior a good coach should have. There are things a coach won’t do for you (link), but they should always believe the best about you and make that belief vocal.


  • http://michaeldmassie.com/ Michael Massie

    Michael, you are so on point with this. I trained and taught martial arts for many years, and the coaches I learned the most from were the ones who made me feel ten feet tall. Great post.

  • http://www.lawrencewilson.com/p/about-me.html Lawrence W. Wilson

    It takes a lot of maturity and self-confidence to be the first kind of coach, I believe. I hope that’s what I’m becoming as I mature.

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      Yes, exactly. Maturity.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      I’ll bet you are, Larry.

  • http://deuceology.wordpress.com Larry Carter

    I strive to be like Victor with my team. I want them to feel comfortable on the tee box.

  • Deborah Owen

    Michael, I love this post! I am a teacher, and while I know that most teachers aspire to be like your friend Victor, there are perhaps times when we lower ourselves to being like Frank (sometimes due to fatigue, frustrations from earlier in the day, long-term frustration with a particular student, etc.). There are even a few teachers who are simply like Frank on a regular basis, but fortunately, I don’t know many of them.

    Basically, this is a great reminder that we have SO much influence over the people we meet each day, in whatever field we work. We have the ability to make or break someone’s day – or even week – based on how we treat them. Building up every person we meet is so important, and it is especially important in my field, where I work daily with fragile teenagers. Personally, I also believe that we are called to be like Christ to everyone we meet, which is my impetus for trying to behave as best I can in every situation. Thank you for the reminder about how to share positive influence, and the difference that it makes to each person.

    You can see me extremely-new blog at ConvergenceInTheCommons.com .

  • PaulS

    What I can tell is this post reveals me a big mistake that I sometimes do. I am a critical person and it happens that trying to help someone, to have exactly the opposite result. Having this in mind, I will try to change the paradigm. Thinking different and willing to point out the good things in people rather than focus so much on their defects, to build a better relation with them. Thank you Michael for this relevant story! (and sorry for my poor English :) )

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Your English is just fine. Thanks for commenting!

  • http://www.annepeterson.com/ Anne Peterson

    I loved this post and two things really jumped out at me. You said you played your best with the first coach, you wanted to be with that coach. You said you felt small with the second coach.

    I would venture to guess the first coach either also had a good coach, or determined he would be a good coach because he lacked one. Many times those who belittle were belittled. What a challenge it has been to parent differently than my parents who only saw what was negative. And who thought praise would make us conceited. They were wrong. But, because that’s what I grew up with, so often I have to silence the critical voice within me. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I have to do remedial work.

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      I thought the same thing, Anne. I’m guessing there’s a story behind the second coach’s approach.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      You make a really good point, Anne. Everyone has a story.

  • http://www.mattmcwilliams.com/ Matt McWilliams

    I’d say that by nature I am a Frank, but I hold my tongue and have become much more like Victor over the years.

    I grew up playing golf and eventually played professionally for two years, so when I play with less-skilled players I try to stay out of their way. I don’t offer much in the way of advice unless asked. I figure they are there to enjoy the day, not to receive instruction.

    I don’t lead that way, but I could probably even learn a leadership lesson from that…sometimes I just need to get out of people’s ways.

  • http://twitter.com/RickGibbs26 Rick Gibbs

    Thanks very much Michael! I’ve been asked by a client to coach and up-and-coming manager at his company. I saw in the new person, a lack of confidence rather than any particular technical ability. Your piece hit the spot that will help me work with both people.

  • David Kiiru

    Hi Michael! That’s good piece..It came spot on…Few hours ago, one of our employees(Very senior age wise) had gone to the licensing department to get multiple licenses for us. He did it very fast due to the network he has gotten over time. So when I realized that..in front of others, I told him, “Good Job! We are all very pleased” and I went away. Later I was told, that he was so motivated, he came back asking if there is something else he could do for us..

    That aside, as to what kind of coach I am..I guess am both, I tend to see lots of areas where things can be done differently and as a result, I get the impression I need to learn more buzz words to be like Victor!
    Once again, thanks for the inspiration.

  • http://www.apprenticeshipofbeinghuman.com/ Graham Scharf

    I have dear friends with three children: 10, 7 and 5. They consistently engage their children positively – and it is positively contagious. When their children interact with mine, they use the same expressions, the same enthusiasm, the same affirmation that they hear consistently from their parents.

    Coaching styles, both positive and negative, are contagious.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      So true. It really builds a positive culture in an organization—any organization—when it is practiced consistently.

      • http://www.apprenticeshipofbeinghuman.com/ Graham Scharf

        It strikes me that your grandchildren are reaping the benefits of this “organization wide” positivity even now. :)

  • http://blog.cyberquill.com/ Cyberquill

    I had to think long and hard on whether I’ve ever done anything that might fall within the realm of “coaching” even in the widest sense, but I suppose training new waiters at places where I’d worked at for a long time, or occasionally giving private German lessons might qualify.

    I guess my style is one of “infinite patience,” i.e., to put my students at ease by exuding confidence that they’ll “get it” eventually no matter how long it may take.

    I’m not sure if providing an utterly pressure-free environment is the most efficient way of teaching — it probably isn’t — but in general I find that people tend to get so frustrated with themselves when it takes them a long time to understand something or if they keep screwing up, it seems to me I really shouldn’t be compounding their frustration by showing signs of impatience.

    It just makes me nervous when people get impatient with me when I’m being slow on the uptake — which I generally am — and being nervous invariably flattens my learning curve even further.

    Also, I use plenty of smirking and kidding around, so when the student messes up, I’ll start growling like a dog or something.

    So my primary goal when I coach, it seems, is not to teach, but to get people to relax in a non-threatening atmosphere, almost bordering on indifference as to whether they might actually learn or improve at whatever I’m supposed to coach them in.

  • http://forthisisthetime.blogspot.com/ Esther Aspling

    Today I choose to take this into parenting. I am homeschooling our 6 kids and sometimes you are too close to someone to remember to be nice. I want to be like Victor!


  • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

    I was really lucky in life to have a dad who was a positive mentor like Victor. He was always encouraging and really helped me see that I could accomplish most anything in life that I wanted, if I was willing to put in the time and effort to get good at it.

    This really offset the negative nabobs, who would put me down and disparage my efforts In fact, with my dad’s guidance, it was fun to take on the naysayers and do things that would have been otherwise impossible .

    Negative comments can have two effects. One is to knock us down. The other is to fire us up. With a good coach or mentor, the negative comments become motivators. Tell me it’s impossible, and you’ll fire me up!

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      I had a similar dad. Even when I wanted to quit, he wouldn’t let me. He helped me to see the value of perseverance, in spite of the struggle. What a gift this has been to me as an adult!

      • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

        I’ve met your, dad, Michele, and I picked that up almost immediately.

    • http://www.clayproductions.com/aaron/ Aaron Johnson

      My Dad was the same way. One of my favorite memories was when one of my Dad’s employee’s called me an idiot. He lit into the guy. I stood pretty tall after that. That happened when I was eleven, but like Michele mentioned, it still affects me as an adult.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004706352185 Facebook User

      Being positive always doesnt help, neither does being negative always help. A balanced and continuous transformation is always and anytime needed.

  • http://www.jeremybuzzard.com/ Jeremy Buzzard

    Great post. I teach private music lessons, so I have to think about this issue daily with multiple students. I don’t always get it right, but I strive for the first example you gave in my teaching.

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      I was a piano teacher for 10+ years. It’s such a delicate balance trying to be instructive, corrective and encouraging at the same time. Especially with something as frustrating as learning an instrument!

  • jpruski

    This is a great post on many different levels. It’s a reminder of how powerful the art of storytelling can be when used to teach and influence. It’s also a great reminder that as leaders, we are always on stage and we must lead (and coach) with purpose. Thanks, Michael.

  • http://harrisonjonathan.wordpress.com/ Jonathan Harrison

    Sam Walton said:”Outstanding leaders go out of their way to boost the self-esteem of their personnel. If people believe in themselves, it’s amazing what they can accomplish.”

    Sadly, many in “Frank’s” position do not even want to be bothered with the approach that Victor is so successful with, in turn, they limit their own influence and effectiveness.

    • Deborah Owen

      I wish more employers were like Sam Walton! That is great advice!

    • Jim Martin

      Jonathan, you make a good point. Guys like this really do limit their own influence and effectiveness.

    • Ed Hill

      Sam Walton was right on point. It feels good to help folks feel good

  • Tony Jacobs

    I recall playing golf with you a few years ago, you were the GOOD coach!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Whew! That’s good to hear! I hope you are well.

  • http://selfstairway.com/ Vincent Nguyen

    I lead through constructive feedback, but I am always sure to never insult anyone’s feelings. I don’t beat around the bush, but that doesn’t mean I’m mean about it because they understand my honesty and people really respect honesty (it’s rare these days.)

    Budding in when they’re struggling and offer your insight is what makes people feel “Wow, ok, I can improve on this.” There’s no use in showing off to make yourself seem amazing. That doesn’t accomplish anything but create resentment.

    • http://harrisonjonathan.wordpress.com/ Jonathan Harrison

      Good for you Vincent (and good for those around you!).
      If you don’t have something nice to say, at least be nice about it.

  • http://garymorland.com/ Gary Morland

    My mentor Harold made me feel I could do almost anything. He was demanding but I never felt it – the holy grail. Nobody ever gets too much encouragement.

  • http://twitter.com/BrettGorney Brett Gorney

    Michael…this is a great post! I’m a PGA Golf Professional who teaches quite a bit. I love this as I’ve always tried to approach my lessons from the “throne of grace”…and not just with being forgiving of bad or improper swing technique, but also forgiving of an individuals frustrations and impatience with golf. The bottom line is golf is a very hard game. The golf swing is virtually impossible to perform with flawless execution. Hence the famous cliche, “Golf is a game of good misses.”

    I know it’s beating a dead horse but the metaphors, or ‘metafores’ as I call them, between golf, leadership and life are so apparent. I was told by a mentor one time that I have a unique gift of helping people feel at ease in all types of situations. So I always try to remember to use that gift whether I’m teaching golf, managing a golf event and those who work under me, as well as leading in the community outside of work.

    From your post resonates Ephesians 4:49 in the Bible. “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

    Thanks again Michael! If you’re ever in the Hartford, CT area, I’d welcome the opportunity to walk the fairways of life with you!

    Brett Gorney
    PGA Professional
    Ellington Ridge CC

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      Thanks for sharing your unique expertise here, Brett!

      • http://twitter.com/BrettGorney Brett Gorney

        Sure thing Michele! Be happy to provide any insights on golf and leadership/life ‘metafores’!!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      I am always amazed at the parallels between golf and life. Maybe that’s why the game is so popular!

  • Paul Potter

    A well timed reminder as I work with young emerging leaders. So important to remember back and feel what it was like when I was learning by doing.

  • http://www.danielevans.org/ Daniel Evans

    If you want confident people with their self-esteem boosted to a high level around you and on your team, you must help create them. I like the Victor coaching style. You will not have to work so hard to find the right people to associate or to build your inner circle, they will either find you or you will be helping to create them.

  • Cherry Odelberg

    Well now, that is certainly information I can use and apply – to everything from mentoring my grandkids to coaching / teaching my piano students. Thank you.

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      I agree, Cherry. Potential for application all around!

  • http://www.leavingconformitycoaching.com/ Randy Crane

    I can honestly say this is one I do very well. I am naturally a “Victor” and all of my clients consistently say that this is one of the things they most appreciate me and is most helpful in their coaching process.

  • PatBrune

    There is a whole theory about what this post describes called Appreciative Inquiry….find out what you are doing right and do more of that. The “wrongs” will be squeezed out of the picture quickly.

    • http://harrisonjonathan.wordpress.com/ Jonathan Harrison

      I love your application of Organizational Development : )

  • http://sukofamily.org/ Caleb

    Michael, I live in Eastern Europe and Frank’s coaching style would be considered tame here. Coaches in former Soviet countries are expected to yell, scream, criticize, tell you how terrible everything is, compare you to those who are better than you and in general make you feel like an idiot. While I’m not a fan of that kind of coaching it is amazing that those kinds of coaches have turned out so many world class athletes.

    • http://www.clayproductions.com/aaron/ Aaron Johnson

      Caleb, I know what you mean. The high school football coach in the small town where I grew up was this way. He had winning teams, but he really did a ton of damage to people’s lives. My take is that we have to take the long-term, and wide-view of the results.

      • http://sukofamily.org/ Caleb

        You’re right long term effects are important to think about.

      • http://TillerFamily.org/ John Tiller

        Well said, Aaron! Many American coaches and their athletes could profit from this distinction.

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  • Eddie Casado Sr.

    I want to say and believe that like Victor I encourage and empower others more times than not. I have been guilty of spending too much time with Frank in the past and I have behave just like him.

    The power of choice is a wonderful gift. To dress up in consciousness and implement behaviors and attitudes that would up-lift and encourage others is the challenge I face every day.

    Stories like to one you posted helps to keep me “in-check” especially around family and those that are dear to my heart.

    “You can only conquer what you are willing to confront” – Mike Murduck

    • http://TillerFamily.org/ John Tiller

      Eddie, you touch on a great point. I, too, have made the mistake of hanging around “Franks” and unconsciously becoming like them. It cost me money and, more importantly, it cost me relationships.

      • Eddie Casado Sr.

        You are not alone John. As the saying goes, “We live and learn.” Some times the lessons can be too costly. I Understand that I have to take responsibility to encourage myself daily and in turn I am able to draw from my well that is full as I share with others. I have been listening to an audible book call, “The Energy Bus” by Jon Gordon.

        “The Energy Bus, takes listeners on an enlightening and inspiring ride that reveals 10 secrets for approaching life and work with the kind of positive, forward thinking that leads to true accomplishment – at work and at home. Everyone faces challenges. And every person, organization, company and team will have to overcome negativity and adversity to define themselves and create their success.No one goes through life untested and the answer to these tests is positive energy – the kind of positive energy consisting of vision, trust, optimism, enthusiasm, purpose, and spirit that defines great leaders and their teams. Drawing upon his experience and work with thousands of leaders, sales professionals, teams, non-profit organizations, schools, and athletes, Gordon infuses this engaging story with keen insights, actionable strategies and a big dose of positive infectious energy. For managers and team leaders or anyone looking to turn negative energy into positive achievement The Energy Bus provides a powerful road-map to overcome common life and work obstacles and bring out the best in yourself and your team. When you get on The Energy Bus you’ll enjoy the ride of your life!”

        We are all work in progress and in sharing with others is where the active living takes place. At present I keep Frank at a mini-mun he is still a friend.

  • Jason Marshall

    Great content Michael! Leaders definitely have a huge impact on the people around them and how they perform.

    I would even say there’s another dimension to this… the people you’re leading! They are all different and respond to different approaches. Strangely someone may thrive in the Frank environment (not me!) to rise to the challenge and competitively beat Frank.

    I have 2 littles boys and they both respond to 2 totally different approaches. What a challenge it is having to adapt to each and bring out the best in them. Thankfully I’ve partnered with a wonderful wife who fills in my gaps ;)

    Thanks again for all your wisdom!


    • http://TillerFamily.org/ John Tiller

      Excellent point, Jason! While encouragement & positive reinforcement is always great, there are big payoffs when we dig a little deeper to understand HOW those we lead best receive coaching.

  • Karrie

    Thank you! My 4, 5, and 6 year old children think they want to be like Dr. Oliver!

    • http://TillerFamily.org/ John Tiller

      That’s awesome, Karrie! Sounds like you’re raising world changers!

  • http://www.facebook.com/brad.jubin Brad Jubin

    Victor led by serving you and Frank led by serving himself. Two leaders with very different objectives and results. Great story…thank you for sharing.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bill.hakes Bill Hakes

    Michael, this is such a timely blog probably because I have had the “Franks” in my life. I too do not respond well to individuals who feel the best way to coach is to use sarcasm, demeaning comments, and ridiculeas the path to success. Yet, I have also had some “Victors” who have been incredible personal advocates because of a simple truism: they believed in my ability. As a result I too performed much better under the tutelage of the “Victors” as opposed to the “Franks”.

    I try to emulate the coaching style of the “Victors” in my life and ministry.

  • http://www.TexasTigerRock.com/ Steve Barkley

    In our martial arts school we have a leadership program where we train students how to be classroom assistants and eventually instructors. The first thing they are taught is how to praise. They go around the class giving high fives and finding things that students are doing right. They have to come up with a praise word for every letter of the alphabet. Learning the value of positive reinforcement helps create great leaders.

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  • Matthew Edwards

    This is a home run for Dad’s! Every dad needs be Victor! Great blog Mike! Thanks for sharing this. I will be sharing this with all the dad’s I can.

  • http://juliesunne.com/ Julie Sunne

    Great illustration, Michael, on the power of an encouraging word. I try to “lead” my children that way. I am seeing the benefit of that now in my college-age son.

  • Erin Bishop

    A great application for parenting, too. Thank you!

  • http://twitter.com/VoiceOverGrille VoiceOverGrille

    Michael, good stuff as usual.

    I find the hardest part of coaching (I am a Voice Over coach) is when you have a person who is inherently down on him or herself and lacks confidence. The more confidence we can instill, the easier our job becomes. The 2nd hardest part is when that person has allowed themselves to be molded, cast and fired into solid pot of pessimism. That’s the work of you know who.

    We are all moldable. It’s who we choose to allow to mold us. I’m just trying to be good clay in the hands of the Master Potter. And then passing that along.

  • http://www.authorcynthiaherron.com/ Cynthia Herron

    Thanks for sharing this! Loved your example of effective coaching styles. Positive, constructive feedback will always win hands down over brusque negativity. I pray I’ll always be a “Victor.”

  • http://twitter.com/quirkycity Heather C Button

    I am working on being the former and catching myself when I’m about to be the latter. Hopefully I will recognize it earlier, and build up the person’s confidence enough to try again. Now, if I could only practice it when I coach myself…

    • Jim Martin

      Heather, your last sentence brings up something important. I wonder if some of us are more like Victor with others while we are more like Frank in the way we treat ourselves.

      • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

        Great application, Jim. Thanks.

  • http://kimanziconstable.com/ kimanzi constable

    Definitely the first. When you go with the second style you aren’t inspiring confidence and not giving people a high level to rise to. I’ve been lead the second way most of my working career, no wonder I ran to self-employment.

  • http://twitter.com/ReneFerret rene ferret

    The way i lead my team is encouragement, promoting their growth and helping them overcome their self doubts and fear :)

    • Jim Martin

      Good for you, Rene. And–for them!

  • Jim Martin

    Great post, Mike. Your description of your friend “Frank” brought back a lot of memories. Played one of the longest games of my life with a guy like that one time. It was the last game with him. Not fun.

    Good point that you make in this post about leadership. I want to remember this.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Jim. I appreciate you!

  • Sandra M

    Yes…I’m immediately reminded of parenting. I’m immediately reminded that I am by nature a “motivator”. At times I teeter between both.

  • Cyndi

    Thanks for the lesson. I’m not sure which style I’ve employed in the past, probably a combination of the two depending on my mood, but you can bet after that illustration, I’m going to adopt the build up, don’t tear down method! Thanks.

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      Good for you Cyndi! Make the change and watch your interactions change.

  • http://twitter.com/HarcourtsDapto Michael Garside

    I very rarely comment on blogs however I really like this post and it struck a chord. Thank you Michael, outstanding lesson!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Thanks for taking the time to comment, Michael.

  • http://www.emilycapito.com/ Emily Capito

    This message transcends coaching or management – this is a general rule for all relationships! How many of our marriages would be 100x more fulfilling if we and our spouses focused on what we do right rather than what we do wrong? When you look at great networkers or superconnectors, they are consistently focused on what is great about the people they meet, as if they can’t even see the faults. A great lesson to be more like Victor and less like Frank in all our interactions.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Emily. That’s a great reminder.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bbasilico Brian Basilico

    Any Analogy with golf… get’s my attention! Nice Post!

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      Golf seems to connect with lots of people Brian. What did you get out of the post?

  • http://www.workyouenjoy.com/ Adam Rico

    Someone once told me “Life is like a microscope, what we focus on gets larger.” I’ve found this to be so true. I wonder how many friendships and opportunities “Frank” unknowingly sabotaged because of what he focused on. I’m sure Victor attracted friends and opportunities regularly. I love being around people like Victor and I hope to offer the same sort of encouragement to others in my life.

  • NatePennington

    Hi michael. I sent you an email but with the amount you get probably will never see it. I live in clarksville, tn and am an elite marathoner (2.19.35 PR)..if you’d ever want to get together to run I’d love to learn from you and answer any questions you may have on running. My site is http://www.rundreamachieve.com. Loved the article and appreciate what you have done with your life…truly inspiring. Godspeed, Nate

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Nate. I haven’t seen the e-mail yet. I appreciate your kind words.

  • http://www.mondayisgood.com/ Tom Dixon

    I worked on application for this tonight – playing catch with my four year old son. He hasn’t quite figured it out, but as we played together I focused on what he was doing right and encouraged him. I am sure I helped him more than pointing out what he was doing wrong – which would be my normal reaction.

    • http://www.leavingconformitycoaching.com/ Randy Crane

      That’s great, Tom! Way to take action!

  • 21stcenturyconfusion

    I agree with your thinking on coaching. I have worked with kids who have parents that continuously degrade their accomplishments while minimizing their successes. I can not think of a more effective method to teach a child to fail! I sometimes wonder if some parents try to get even with their parents by taking out their past pain on their own children.



  • http://twitter.com/msamboy Mike Samboy

    I tend to naturally have a coaching style like Victor. Interestingly, I’m a pretty affirming guy and like to give positive reinforcement. I’ve had some employees over the years who must have been brought up around people like Frank. Positive coaching and affirmations did little. In fact, they seemed to think less of me for not
    ripping into them all the time.

    I tried for years to adjust my style and be more abrasive to those types of individual, but found myself generally unhappy and dreading my interactions with them. I now make it a point to only surround myself with employees who are a good match for my particular management style. I’m not sure if that’s the best overall approach to take, but I’m sure a heck of a lot happier and more productive!

  • http://www.facebook.com/DrJasonBrooks Jason Brooks

    Great blog Michael. I appreciate the perspective as I coach with a supportive, encouraging, and validating approach as well. While some may expect the more directive coaching style, I believe that sustained change and results are built through each person being on their journey of self-discovery, walking side-by-side with a coach who is compassionate and authentic. It may take a little longer…but in the end the results and stories from the experience will be priceless. Thanks again! Dr. Brooks

  • Soumangue

    I enjoyed your story Michael. I strongly believe providing positive constructive criticism is the best way to coach your team members. It’s works and it’s a win/win situation for my teammate and for me.

  • http://www.coachingreallyworks.com/ Abe S.

    This is why it’s so important to find the right coach. I can’t be just anyone. Gotta make sure they are going were you wanna go and giving you the confidence to take that path.

    I like that quote that says something like, “We become like those we spend most of our time with.”

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      Right on Abe. Finding the person who meshes with you and gives you the encouragement needed to move forward is critical. How do you seek out these types of people?

  • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

    We started baseball practice in Wisconsin this week, and I learned the JV coach (I’m the assistant) had a knee problem and was uncertain as to how available he’d be to coach. In a quick exchange with the varsity coach (Him: “You might have to coach the team.” Me: Laugh. Him: “I’m not kidding.”), I had to consider my coaching role. The JV coach knows baseball. I know baseball players. The JV coach teaches but also, at times, tears down. I learn and, at times, build up.

    I love your illustration, Mike, and know how much of a difference the Victors in this world made/make in my life. I hope I can pass the favor on to others.

    • Jim Martin

      I wish you the very best this season – especially if you coach the team. Sounds like these kids will be fortunate if you do.

  • Ed Hill

    I coach broadcast personalities and for true performers this is the absolute best way to coach. Enjoyed your tale of two coaches! Victor is my kinda guy!

  • Lisa Hains

    Just great!—powerful!–and positive thoughts!!!
    Thanks so much Michael—for making the world a better place through your work!!!

  • http://twitter.com/Africa_Agric Chris Sperling

    thanks Michael,I can totally relate to the golf example> fortunately I have a great encouraging golf partner. It has helped me to see how this encouraging attitude helps people to flourish!

  • http://twitter.com/ianharber Ian Harber

    Great post! I’ve also learned that I perform better when I have people encouraging me rather than discouraging me. As a student, I have a hard time with grades. People’s tendency is to say, “Ian, you’re smart! How can you possibly be doing so bad?” I understand the heart behind it, but it only makes the situation worse. It’s when people point out what I do right and then encourage me to work on everything else that I start to do better.

    I want to be a leader like Victor and like those who encourage me. Thanks for the lesson!

  • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

    Unfortunately, I believe I tend to fall into Frank’s type of coaching more often than not. It’s the style I was raised with and the style I default to. What advice do you have for those who struggle in their coaching style?

    • http://Thefieldgeneral.com/ Chris Coussens

      I don’t know about “advice” but here is what i do. I have a tendency to be critical when I am not intentional, so I’ve developed some coping mechanisms:
      1. I set aside some specific time weekly to “Appreciate” team members. Look back on the week and see what’s good, what I can recognize.
      2. I’ve asked my direct reports who are managers to systematically come to our team meeting with suggestions on who has done something I can recognize. Keeps this visible to me, and I think adds something to the attaboy when it comes from a level up.
      3. This is new. I’ve set aside some specific time to review each employee and what their strengths are and what I like about what they do. I haven’t done this yet, but my plan is that anyone I can’t answer that question about, I will actively pursue it. I have some specific employees in mind already.

      My hope is by taking these specific steps, it refocuses some of my energy explictly towards the positive. That helps me have some momentum in that direction.

  • Julie@ComeHaveaPeace

    I know I want to be like Victor, and the growth in my teams makes me think I’m “more Victor than Frank.” My hope is that I will help each one on the team to reach their potential and blossom under my leadership. I think I “default to my inner Frank” when I allow myself to get physically and mentally tired, when my own focus and purpose becomes clouded, and when my pride gets in the way.

    • Jim Martin

      Julie, it sounds like you are very self-aware. Sounds like a real strength to me that you recognize the areas when you are move likely to revert to Frank’s style of leadership.

  • Hanno

    Mr. Hyatt, I really enjoyed reading this blog post because a friend recently put me in touch with Dr. Victor Oliver to talk about working as an editor. Even though he was a complete stranger to me, I felt understood, affirmed, and encouraged by him in that one phone conversation.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      He is an amazing man. I am not surprised by your experience.

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  • Lalit

    I prefer Dr. Victor

  • http://twitter.com/Teams_First TeamsFirst Directory

    My youngest plays soccer on a travel team. When she started there were 4 teams in her division – team “a” was at the top and team “b” was at the bottom.

    Team A got a new coach – who had a great reputation as a soccer player – but he was a “Frank” type of coach – any time a kid made a misstep she was called to the bench for a reprimand – great plays were rarely commented on – but goals were rewarded. A few individuals thrived under his praise but it ended up pitting team mates against each other and in the end despite having the best individual players in the league the team only finished middle of the pack.

    During the season I listed to the other coaches in the league and the team with the smallest players who struggled at first had a coach like Victor. In fact during one game where our team was leading at the half I overheard his pep talk – and he told the girls exactly where they were doing things right and encouraged them to keep doing that with a few suggestions on how to get into scoring position that would build on what they were doing.

    That team pulled ahead and ended up winning the game – that is the day I decided that we were going to see if we could move teams.

    Two years later that team of undersized players not only won their Level 4 and Level 3 divisions but finished 8th place in our province while the team with “Frank” at the helm finished in 52nd position.

    Where teams are involved Leadership style has a huge impact.

    • http://www.leavingconformitycoaching.com/ Randy Crane

      What a great real-life example! Thank you for sharing it.

    • Jim Martin

      What a great example! Thanks for sharing this.

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  • http://lisadelay.com/blog Lisa Colon DeLay

    The coach model has been very crucial for me in formal and non-formal ways since

    What was incredibly cool was to recently find a training/education program that works in this same manner–so, not just book knowledge and leadership theories, but spiritual growth focused, with mentors and coaches to guide and model, and personal leadership experience fashioned into it too. The Master of Arts in Christian Leadership program I’m in now functions this way. Essentially, it’s a Christian MBA. (evangelical.edu)

    And with a BIG focus on Authentic Leadership and Servant Leader and Transforming (models) and the desire to have leaders like this in businesses and ministries (in the wake a huge Wall Street, leadership, and business failures) it’s both versatile and valuable training. Like your article shows getting to the core of one’s attitude, or even understanding why it’s like that in the first place is super important.

    (I can think of more than a few bosses out there who could benefit for a hard look at their leadership style!)

    • Jim Martin

      Lisa, what an interesting program! So glad you are having such a good and rich experience.

  • Brenda March

    Great point & perfect analogy, thanks for sharing!

  • http://CaptivatingCappadocia.com Duke Dillard

    Excellent post. Thank you for sharing this story. I connected with both kinds of coaches. I have had them both and have unfortunately been both. This post excellently fulfilled the task of showing the problem, helping me to identify with it, and then showing me a better way.

  • Randy Stroman

    True coaching is not about the knowledge inside the coach, but about the ability of the coach to draw out awareness from inside of the student.

    • Jim Martin

      Randy, I like this! Thanks very much.

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  • Dick Brookes

    Great insight. Harvey Pennock the long term golf coach at the University of Texas took the same approach. If a golfer made a mistake, Harvey would watch patiently, and then walk over to him and quietly say, “Why don’t you try this?” There is certainly a time to tell someone without ability that perhaps there is something else they should try, but to succeed in life you have to know that SOMEONE believes in your – great coaches know that and they always have a “glass is half full” mind set – especially toward those they are coaching.
    Dick Brookes – Interim Senior Pastor; Cambridge, New York

  • http://www.VictoryChristianCoaching.com/ Marianne Clements

    I can certainly relate. When I was re-learning how to water ski, I got very frustrated with someone who focused more on what I was doing wrong and seemed to grow more and more impatient every time I fell. I contrast this to my uncle who first taught me how to ski — he was gentle and encouraging and I learned how to ski very quickly.

    I used to be a critical person, but now I’m an encourager — thanks to God.

    Have a Victorious Day!

  • http://twitter.com/LazoVuckovich Lazo Vuckovich

    This is a great post — it made me look back at my previous coaches, and at my ability to coach.

    Playing college baseball, I came to realize that some teammates needed an arm put around them while others needed a foot in the butt. After my playing days, I coached some Legion baseball — the same applied.

    In the end, it came down to what Mr. Hyatt says above — confidence. Those lacking confidence needed the arm around them, while those with too much needed the foot in the butt.

    Good post — made me reflect.

  • http://www.facebook.com/rmw1221 Bob Wright

    The last paragraph of your post should be posted at the desk of every manager! Thank you for sharing this!

  • http://twitter.com/samsonvarughese Samson Varughese

    Great read. I just had a question. How do you help your team members recognize where they need to improve and hold them to a higher standard while still encouraging them and helping them realize their strengths?

    • http://theordainedbarista.com/ Barry Hill

      Great question. Do you mean team members that are you are supervising or team members that are peers.—I think they are handled slightly differently.

  • MIchael Moak

    Honestly, I think I’ve been guilty of being a “frank” at times in my life. But, my heart truly desires to be a “victor”. Thanks for this post Michael. It has made me think about my privilege as a husband, dad, and pastor.

  • Jake Garrett

    The thought of casting a negative light over anything that your coaching client is doing just seems to defeat the whole purpose of working with some one. Back to Rule #1 – If you can’t say something nice, just shut up!

  • Dan

    I play a good amount of golf and am fairly good at it and I think you’re over thinking things here. Sounds to me like the “Frank” character was just a dink (to say it nicely). The lesson is don’t play golf with dinks.

  • Jon Nyberg

    Mr. Hyatt,

    I was happy and surprised to see this post.

    You see, I grew up with Dr. Oliver. He helped raise me along with his own sons. I spent many days and nights at the Oliver’s – years in fact! And, I have such fond memories of him and Dixie.

    Please do say “hello” to Victor for me, if you get the chance.

    You won’t remember me, but I’m certain you remember my incredible mother, Marcia Nyberg. She was with Victor for many years and helped launch Oliver/Nelson in Dunwoody.

    Best regards,

    Jon Nyberg

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Great to hear from you, Jon. I do remember Marcia. Unfortunately, I don’t get the opportunity to see Victor often. I really miss him.

  • http://www.strategicplanningforgrowth.co.uk/ Jane Bromley

    I love the story! What a great message. You can coach people to believe in themselves and bring out the very best in them or you can point out their errors.

    Confidence is incredibly powerful. I once had a boss who pointed out every error I made with Excel – there were many. He would watch over my solder for the next mistake! It was sheer torture. Strangely, when I left that company I didn’t make Excel errors again. ..

    Compare that with Jason Collins, a founder of a company called Apogee in the UK. Jason believes that all his team have inspiration and amazing ability within them – and that is his job to pull it out. No surprise that Apogee’s revenue and profits are growing at well over 15% pa.

    Coaching someone to see their own power and excellence is an honour – and brings out the very best in us too.

    Thanks. Jane

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  • Alison

    I count myself lucky to have a coach like Dr. Oliver. She encourages and motivates me. I’m always learning from her – and she says the same about me.

  • http://www.drchristyd.com/ Dr. Christy Demetriades

    This is so true Michael. It’s really disappointing when you need help, and you reach out for it and a well intentioned person “pokes” your weakness thinking that they are prompting you to grow. (Uhh… no.) It’s not like we don’t know it’s our weakness… (It’s like watering weeds and expecting flowers to grow.) It’s MUCH more encouraging and growth promoting when someone acknowledges what we ARE doing right, acknowledges this, and gently encourages us along this path. Sometimes, when this is done in a loving manner, that initial “weakness” might strengthen over time. But the weak areas will never grow in an atmosphere of negativity, guilt or condemnation. Love and acceptance is where growth is fostered and developed.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Great points, Christy. Thanks for commenting.

  • Tony Hendley

    Great analogy. I’ve golfed with both of those guys…lol The one that focuses on strengths is the one that i prefer to golf with and I improve throughout the day the other one does not for me cause me to be better.

  • J. Michael McDade

    Great blog Michael. As a counselor, I find people are tough enough on themselves without the added negative comments I could add. Encouragement always brings out the best in people. Thanks for the reminder.

  • Matt Ream

    Thank you Mr. Hyatt. There is some real truth in how a coach or mentor delivers their message. After reading your post a few days ago, I had the luxury of going cycling. During our ride, I (as a former Master’s Racer in Nor. Cal.) had the opportunity to help via coaching or mentoring (you choose) an slightly older gentleman who was struggling. Over two hours, we finished and he was extremely grateful… yet more than that, the other guys in our group came to me individually and made comments. And that was extremely gratifying. Gratification, a wonderful side affect of being a positive influence. I think more time than not, manager/leaders get caught up in deadlines and fail on being a mentor… which often times is a very small time constraint, and one which would offer invaluable personal satisfaction in helping someone out. Again, thank you for your post. Cheers!