Phil Jackson (past basketball coach of the Chicago Bulls and past, present, past, present–oh what is it now–coach of the Los Angeles Lakers) would never dream of doing it. Neither would
Bill Belichick (coach of the new England Patriots). In fact, I can’t think of any sport where the coach would find it acceptable. But, leaders—who are also coaches—do it all the time. What am I talking about? I’m talking about leaders who try to coach employees without ever seeing them in action.

Leaders are coaches.

Leaders, who have supervisory responsibilities for employees, have come to see the value of coaching. Most leaders see themselves as the coach of their direct reports. That is, they see the need to offer their employees insights that will increase the effectiveness and capacity of those employees. I find though, as I coach leaders that many of them, who see themselves as a coach, spend little to no time actually observing their direct reports in action during the game. In other words, leaders try to coach employees without ever watching them do their jobs.

    Leaders are coaches.

    If there is one quality that marks a coach, it’s proximity. You can’t coach someone for very long from a distance. You have to be close enough to understand that person’s world and how she operates in that world. Without first hand observation your coaching is, at best, guesswork.

    The distant coach has two problems (stay tuned)…