Is Your Coach a Trillion Dollar Coach?

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Bill Campbell’s posthumous book release got us thinking about the importance of coaches in our own lives.


Leadership is a difficult skill to master, which makes leadership coaching an art in itself. That’s why we were so excited to find out about Trillion Dollar Coach: The Leadership Playbook of Silicon Valley’s Bill Campbell. A leadership legend behind some of the world’s most successful companies, Campbell was widely trusted as a coach and mentor to countless high-powered CEOs and executives. After his passing, Google’s Eric Schmidt, Jonathan Rosenberg and Alan Eagle took on the challenging task of compiling eighty interviews on his life and work. The end result is a detailed biography, a touching eulogy, and an informative guide for leaders and coaches alike.

For Schmidt, his greatest lesson from Bill Campbell was: “If you get the team right, you’ll get the issue right.” A piece of advice that Schmidt himself has famously said for years and reiterates in his book is that “Everyone needs a coach.” I wholeheartedly agree, which is precisely why I started Sounding Board. Everyone can benefit from having a coach — especially new leaders — and I hear almost daily from people who wish they would have had a coach earlier in their career because it helped them grow faster and see things they wouldn’t otherwise observe.

The book got me thinking about the value of leadership coaches in general and of my own coach (and now co-founder) in particular. When I was a first promoted to management at my last startup, I had the honor of working with Lori Mazan to help me develop the leadership skills that I needed in order to thrive in my new role. Lori came along at a time when I was feeling overwhelmed by the enormity of my role and all the responsibilities that came with it, and she helped me figure out how to focus on what mattered and lead my team in a thoughtful and strategic way.

One of the things Lori really helped me better understand was how to evolve my communication style. She gave me simple strategies such as “headlining” information to share with our CEO and executives, instead of my standard approach of wanting to give all of the details and backstory. Just this simple shift had a tremendous impact on how I was viewed by the team – suddenly I was viewed as strategic even when I was saying the same things! This is just one simple example, but I think it’s an important one to show how a “little” really goes a long way in terms of leadership development. Over time, the constant iteration of new mindsets and behaviors affects how you are viewed within the organization, which increases your ability to lead teams.

Lori’s coaching gave me strategies and support I needed at a critical juncture of my career, and for that I will always be grateful.

We want to hear from you. What has your coach done for you, and how important have they been in your career? If your coach has been nearly as impactful for your career as Lori was for mine, we’d ask that you tag them on Twitter or LinkedIn with a personalized note and the hashtags #mysoundingboard #trilliondollarcoach #thankyoucoach.

A few weeks ago was Teacher Appreciation Week. Let’s make this Coach Appreciation Week and all give your coaches some love!

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Published in Executive Coaching, Leadership, Leadership 101 and Sounding Board