As both an executive coach and an organizational effectiveness consultant, I am often asked to explain the difference between coaching and consulting. Simply put, consultants provide advice or expert knowledge on a specific subject while effective coaches can coach anyone, on any topic, in any field. Coaches aren’t expected to have all the answers; rather, they are experts at asking provocative questions that lead to stronger awareness and accountability for the coachee. Most leaders spend too much time playing the role of consultant and not enough time coaching. The best leaders I’ve seen coach their people through challenges and opportunities for which they don’t readily have solutions…gasp!
When I reflect on where coaching is best exemplified in the halls of corporate America, I often consider David Novak, Chairman and CEO of Yum! Brands. Under David’s leadership, Yum has achieved enviably high shareholder return in a notoriously challenging industry. So what’s his secret sauce, so to speak? David devotes much of his own time to teaching leadership skills to Yum’s management and franchisees. Here are some of my personal favorite leadership nuggets from his philosophy:
1. Real leaders are coaches. In 2013, Novak astutely said, “If you view yourself as a ‘boss’, you’re a relic…you have to see yourself as a coach.”
2. Even successful people can still up their game. Novak coaches his people to do what he calls the “hot shot replaces me exercise.” He explains, “If you’re self-aware and really know your business, then you know what needs to be done but you haven’t done yet. So do it before someone brings in a hot shot to replace you.”
3. Ask powerful questions. Novak begins meetings with one simple yet very powerful question: “What perspectives, habits, or beliefs do you need to change, build, or reinforce to grow your business?”
What he accomplishes with his approach is laser focusing his team on what’s in their control rather than hand wringing over the multitude of factors that are outside of their control. That’s how David beat Goliath and demonstrates the art of coaching at its best.