This post is excerpted from The Power of Positive Coaching


We love watching the Olympics. In fact, we were thrilled when they started alternating the summer and winter Olympics, so we would only have to wait two years instead of four years to see the games. The Olympics embody all that is good and inspiring about the human spirit. We are in awe of how these athletes practice day in and day out, week in and week out, year in and year out for that one moment to perform when it really matters.

As we watched the most recent Olympics, we had an aha moment. Olympians spend 99 percent of their time practicing, while they perform just one percent (or less) of the time. Your team members have the opposite challenge. They must perform 99 percent (or more) of the time taking care of customers, analyzing reports, developing their teams, generating sales, etc. In business, there is precious little time for your team to “practice” all these tasks.

The vast  majority  of  your  team’s  learning  and  development happens on the job rather than in formal development programs.

Those who coach Olympic athletes literally spend years training their athletes during practice and typically can only sit and watch as they perform. Business coaches, on the other hand, have the opportunity to coach their team members, day in and day out for years, in real time as they perform. That is a powerful distinction.

Even though we are hardly Olympic athletes, we experience the power of a coach to elevate performance in real time whenever we go to an exercise class (Zumba® dance for Julie and TITLE® Boxing for Lee). The moment the trainer/coach walks within eyesight, we predictably elevate our intensity, exert more energy, and check to ensure our form is correct.

This predictable and natural human reaction has been long established. In fact, the first study to demonstrate this effect was conducted by Norman Triplett, a psychologist from Indiana University, way back in 1898. The fact that we perform better when we are coached in real time is referred to as social facilitation, which is defined as “an improvement in performance produced by the mere presence of others.”

Do you coach your team in real time?

Imagine the performance improvement if you consistently instructed and encouraged your team daily while they were performing their jobs. What are the possibilities for offering feed- back, adjusting on the fly, tweaking execution, changing plans mid-game? Doesn’t your team deserve an engaged, inspiring coach to help them realize their full potential?


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“Lee and Julie deliver powerful lessons with simple, concise language. As inspirational as it is practical. A vital tool for leaders at any career stage. An extraordinary book!”

– Dr. Marshall Goldsmith, The Thinkers50 #1 Leadership Thinker in the World