‘Coaching’ is a fitting term to use when your team needs guidance, encouragement

Use your imagination and guess who might have said this: “We are a success today, but nothing is guaranteed for tomorrow unless we have our game face on.”

If you are thinking about a sports figure, that would be a good guess. If you thought of a public speaker — one of the thousands who have taken to the podium at The City Club of Cleveland, the topic of this month’s Uniquely Cleveland — that would be an astute guess as well.

After all, it’s been said that the fear of public speaking tops the list of all fears. It often takes coaching and practice for the timid person to make a speech.

But it was a president of a $2 billion company I interviewed who told me about a game face as he described how he leads his company.

He admitted that “coaching” might be a bit overused as a term to describe how to keep employees engaged, but it fits well.

“Try to spend time with your family of associates helping them, coaching them, checking in with them, just seeing what is going on,” he says.

What he implies is that there is a certain amount of involvement with your employees, making sure that they are encouraged to perform, but avoiding over involvement.

“I do not micromanage any of our business units or the leaders in them,” he says. “The first thing I always tell them is, ‘I want you to run your operation as if you own it. If you have questions, or if you need guidance, I am here. But if I have to micromanage it for you, I’ve got the wrong person in the seat.’”

One of the best indexes of performance is productivity. If your managers keep an eye on individual productivity, they will be able to manage more effectively where it is needed most.

“You may get fooled by some who can sing a pretty good song,” he says. “But the reality of it is just productivity. When I look at my offices, are they doing comparable to what they did the prior year? If not, why not?

“If you had a smaller office and you have two or three big sales producers, and those producers have an off year, it can impact an entire office. Instead of thinking it’s a leadership issue, maybe it is just that you have a couple of people who are having off years.

“You have to know what is going on in your business. I think if levels of management just go through the motions, those days are numbered for them because you can’t do it anymore. You have to know what the trends are and what the strategic issues facing you are, and how you are going to deal with them.”

While it may seem to be at odds with the practice of empowerment, staying in touch with employees is vital to success.

But one last word: the leader needs to prevent hovering — and to show everyone how to put on a game face.


Dennis is interested in the people and businesses making a difference in Cleveland. (440) 250-7037 [email protected]