Enjoy this excerpt from our new book, Healthy Leadership.

Do you coach your team in real-time? What are the possibilities for offering feedback, adjusting on the fly, tweaking execution, changing plans mid-game if needed, and encouraging them?

Not only does your team deserve a leader to help them realize their full potential, but Gallup’s research also reveals that your team wants a coach, not a boss. They want a coach who helps them grow and develop personally and professionally.

Yet to coach your team in healthy ways, you must first ensure you have a healthy mindset. The key to a healthy coaching mindset is to be the employee’s ally, not the critic.

If we asked a room of 1,000 people to speak up if they like being criticized, we would hear crickets. Why? Because critics think they know better than you and stunt your openness to grow.

Criticism is predictably met with resistance and yields modest, short-term change at best. On the contrary, when you are seen as an ally, employees know you care about their well-being and success, and they feel your confidence and commitment to help them grow. The bottom line: Healthy leaders are allies for their teams and they coach from that position.

Darren Woodson was a strong, star safety for the Dallas Cowboys for thirteen years, a three-time Super Bowl Champion, and a five-time Pro Bowl selection. He followed his celebrated NFL career as an ESPN analyst for thirteen years after that.

Today, he is a partner at Cresa, a leading commercial real estate services company. At an event we hosted, Darren graciously agreed to kick off the session and address the CEOs in attendance.

After telling several captivating stories, he recalled the five NFL coaches he played under. One of them was Bill Parcells, who had a reputation of being a tough coach. Surprisingly, Darren shared that below Coach Parcells’ hard, gruff exterior, he deeply and genuinely cared for his players as people. He would even intentionally connect with them off the field. Coach Parcells helped Darren see that the best coaches want to help make team members into better people, and healthy leaders do the same.

A healthy coaching mindset assumes the best intent, looks for what is good, seeks first to understand, and trusts others’ capabilities. This enables the leader to focus on strengths, coach with questions, and help employees move toward autonomy.

Healthy Leadership Book