In my life the best coaching I’ve ever received is when I’m not aware I’m receiving it! I have to share a few examples. Both because they warm my heart, and also because they might be learning opportunities for other leaders.
First was WAY back in the 70’s in one of my first “real jobs” (not delivering newspapers). I was hired as a participant in a manager training program at an obscure, no longer in business bank in Oregon called, The Oregon Bank. My boss’s boss was named Jack Dressler, and he was the branch manager. You need to understand that back then I had NO money, was trying to start a life with a new wife, a new apartment, a new city. Consequently, nice things like custom suites and top end cars were simply out of the question.
Occasionally the Branch Manager, and other “officers” would all go to lunch together, I was included since I was an officer in training. But one day Jack took me to lunch by myself. I didn’t think anything of it. On the way walking back to the branch he said he had to stop by his tailor and pick up a jacket he’d purchased. We went in to the shop and the owner fetched the jacket. Along the way the tailor looked at me and said, “Hey, I think I have something that just came in you might be interested in.” Next thing I know I’m trying on a nice sports jacket and it’s in my price range! It never occurred to me until years later that my boss, Jack, had arranged the whole experience! And while he could have completely embarrassed me, he didn’t. He completely helped me “save face”.
Example 2: I was working at First Consumers National Bank, a company in big trouble in the “dot-com bust”. We were a credit card company. At one point the largest recipient of mail in the greater Portland, OR area. Eventually it became clear that we were going to go bankrupt. I remember walking around the campus with the CEO and I noticed he was smiling. I said, “Hey Greg, how do you stay so happy given the circumstances?” He said, “See all those office windows? Everyone is watching you and me and if I show signs of worry, it will completely destroy them.” Great lesson!
My challenge to you is this, how can you translate even one of these examples into the context of your job? Who needs you to take them under your arm and care about them? What words of wisdom do you need to impart, even without speaking? How do you approach your own leadership development skills?