When I saw an article on Live Mint about this book, the first few questions were:

  • What is so secret about coaching? Coaching was always there, ever since man started walking on this plant. Looking at mythology/ history across geographies. Every Master, Avatar, realized soul, Guru, was always a coach. 
  • Uncommon Leadership‘ – Isn’t leadership common? What’s uncommon about it?  

As we connected with the author and planned the webinar, I got the book and started reading it. Some of these questions were answered in the book and some more during the Regal Global Webinar, last Wednesday. Leadership is such a fascinating topic. Add coaching to it, the conversation with this celebrity author was truly mesmerizing. As I read rest of the book, reflect more, and some interactions with fellow coaches, and my coachee/client leaders, I am sure more questions will come up, for us all. We can not after all expect all answers from the book.

Some are best left as questions, for answers to emerge?

Why we need uncommon leadership? Look around and see all the problems, and opportunities. The answer to all the problems we face today boils down to leadership. 

Whether in corporate, business, politics, academics, health, everywhere we are facing the worst shortage of great leaders. A leader who operates at a higher level of consciousness. A simple way to do this is to be a leader-as-coach, the core theme of the book. We owe it ourselves, future generations.

Alan Lafley of P&G (Drucker), Jack Welch of GE (Ram Charan), Jeff Bezos (Bill Campbell)…all had some great coaches.

No wonder they were so successful. 

– Trillion Dollar coach is the #1 leadership book as per a list on Inc. mag.

One thing the author untangled in the webinar was the image on the cover – how the leader can move from a tangled consciousness to light & untangled, and move up! (paraphrased!)

The Foreword by Biocon Exe Chairperson, Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, sets the context by sharing her own leadership style.. ‘not about controlling, it is about empowering or helping people find their purpose and setting them on a path to realizing their full potential’.

While coaching was always about #FullPotential for me, the definition shared in the book brings together both performance and potential. 

As the author rightly points out in the preface, ‘the biggest challenge leaders have today is not revenue generation or profitability, it is the people’. Sadly, the business has gone after profit at the expense of people and the planet. Will the millennials change it?

The book explores not just corporate, but also sports, and cricket. Can we ignore one of the greatest ever, Sachin Tendulkar? As a leader, ‘Sachin took things personally, he could never be a relaxed captain. The burden soon started affecting his batting and, eventually his self-belief‘. A great player is most often not the natural captain. A great individual contributor is often not the best leader. But we often conveniently ignore the demands of leadership and just promote good performers. A good sales manager is promoted to leadership roles, with disastrous results. Cricket or elsewhere, winning teams are more than just a collection of supremely talented individuals.

‘Superchicken model’ never worked, as the author clearly clarifies. ‘Often superstars had pecked their kin to death’, don’t we see that in leadership around? Raw talent is not enough, motivation too, and more… like perseverance, passion, motivation, and grit.

‘Grit being having passion and perseverance towards long-term goals’, courtesy Duckworth. Often the leadership is myopic and band-aid. Transactional, not transformational, long term.

Building UnCommon Leaders: Who are your favorite uncommon leaders? For me it is Gandhiji, Warren Buffet, Steve Jobs, Mandela, Lincoln.

A sign of good leaders is not how many followers you have, but how many leaders you create – Gandhiji.   

It is the ‘outstanding collaborators who enjoy the long careers because bringing out the best in others is how they found the best in themselves’, great read on the Ted talk on the Royal Academic of Dramatic Art.

Google Project Oxygen also brings out an important leadership lesson for all, ‘My manager is a good coach’. 

  • What is coaching? process, maximize performance & potential, non-directive and self-enabling conversations
  • Why? The urgency to build uncommon leaders, contemporary leaders, leader as coach.

You can not be a good leader without being a coach

Most of the mergers and acquisitions fail to integrate fully. Why? The author points out, ‘in a strategic corporate marriage, people are typically the biggest casualty’!     

The author also lists out what prevents leaders from being coaches: 

  1. Not real work, though that is the work
  2. Time
  3. Interest
  4. Self Assurance
  5. Dumping ground
  6. Hard work, it is! Leadership was always a crown of thorns?
  7. Courage.

Many leaders rate themselves high on coaching, they think they already are coaching. This also brings me to the need to learn to coach. It is a different skill. It is something that has a good framework, structure. You need to learn.

The greatest singers also benefit from learning music from their teachers.

Leaders, from all walks of life, have some things in common. Some are visible, like passion and grit. Some are not, for example, legacy. Coaching alone can help a leader leave a great legacy. A leader can not escape legacy. It comes only from creating more leaders, to borrow from Bapu’s quote.

You have discussed in the book that women need coaching as much as men do. However, the approach to coaching women has to be different as it needs to be customized. Please share your thoughts on this aspect of coaching.

Do women make better coaches? Or is it the femine energy, in all?

The book also introduces the 4C Model of coaching: Capability, clarity, confidence, and consciousness (awareness), all on a strong foundation of #culture. This is one of the important parts of the book, very thought-provoking. For example, invent the career ladder under capability is something that is lost on many leaders, practicing and aspiring.

Leadership is not a position, it is a responsibility. Both being like the two wings of an eagle (our logo).

This book is full of stories, references from some great external resources. They all come together to make the leader think. Ultimately the leader has to make a choice, set an intent, and work towards the Leader as a Coach

A must-read, a good reference to go back to, and start using the insights daily, at work, and in life.

Happy leading, coaching…

PS: The book is dedicated to, ‘For mom, the best coach I’ve had, and for Raghav, who I hope will someday say the same about me’. A (true) coach is one who is able to be a coach in all roles, at all times (a personal challenge!). That is “Being a Coach”, we coaches aspire to. Best wishes to Ruchira for being a coach, and all the joys therein. Grateful for such a brilliant book on coaching and leadership. 

It was a pleasure to host the author on our Regal Global Webinar and get more insights about the book. Check out:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L6EomxfRNho&t=5s

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