Have you noticed that professional athletes and sports men and women work with the best coaches they can find to help them reach the top of their game? Andy Murray is no exception, working with Ivan Lendl, a tennis player who has also experienced the highs and lows of life on the professional circuit.

Andy also works with Leon Smith, Captain of the Great Britain Davis Cup team who coached the team to its famous victory in 2015. Leon recently spoke at a conference for one of our clients, Standard Life, who also happen to sponsor Andy Murray (#withAndy). He enlightened his audience on his approach to coaching and why it made such a difference to the team at a time when it was facing relegation.

It struck me how poignant some of his points were, how they can apply just as effectively in the business world, and how they echo with our approach as executive and business coaches in the corporate and professional services sectors.

Surround yourself with the best

Firstly, Leon explained that you can only achieve great things if you surround yourself with the best in the business. This needn’t mean looking externally for the right talent; it’s more about providing the leadership, ethos, support and ideas to ensure your team is working towards a clear yet ambitious objective. Share your vision, let them see your passion and lead the way.

Importance of conversations

Leon expressed the importance of sharing ideas, not just once, but continuously, to ensure they are embedded in the culture of the team. This requires consistent conversations. In fact Leon was keen to stress the importance of conversation, to maintain an ongoing dialogue with your people to bring out the best in them. It’s the most effective way to bring your people along with you.

Progress – a moving feast

For progress and continued improvement to take place, it’s important not to stand still but to develop and do things differently, build new skills and match talent with your passion, desire and ideas. Stay focused on objectives, shun complacency and keep driving forward.

Empower and recognise

Leon’s approach is to empower and recognise all those that do the work, so they can see the value of what they do for the good of the team. If you take your people with you, whatever their level, help them to share the dream and show them how much you appreciate their contribution, you’re more likely to be rewarded with loyalty and passion whilst nurturing new talent that will grow and add value over time.

The ‘art’ of good coaching

Leon was clearly passionate about the role he has as a coach, and has a very clear understanding of what he calls the ‘art’ of coaching. To be truly influential, it’s crucial to get to know the people you are coaching and to adapt coaching styles to bring out the best in each individual. People are different so good coaching requires the use of emotional intelligence and to be good at listening so that you can understand who they are as a person. Don’t underestimate the importance of spending time with your team members and adapting your coaching style.

Ask yourself, is this person ready to ‘perform’ in their role? Are they calm, focused, motivated and in good health? Take a look at the whole person, not just their job function. To achieve the best, they must be in a position to give their best, and that means emotionally and physically as well as mentally.

Knowing when to work with a coach

If you thought you could get by without a business coach, you may be right. However, we can all learn from the use of coaching of those that really do want to reach the top of their game and are looking for that competitive edge.

At Quiver Management, we coach ambitious senior leaders and business owners, to increase their performance and leadership impact, which in turn lifts their teams’ and their organisations performance.

We also work with senior executives, enabling them to apply many of the techniques that Leon advocates to nurture and develop their teams. Take a look at our coaching training programmes for more information.

If you’re looking to create changes in mindset and behaviour across your organisation, our transformational programmes to build a coaching culture will be a major enabler, particularly during challenging times or periods of change.

Coaching will always bring about positive outcomes. If you’re looking to enhance your competitive edge please get in touch for a conversation.

After all, if Andy Murray has a coach – why not you?

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