Business parables are a favorite of mine, so when I learned that Brian Souza had written his newest book, THE WEEKLY COACHING CONVERSATION as a parable, it was a pleasant surprise. Having read Souza’s previous book, Become Who You Were Born to Be, I was amazed at how his writing style in this allegory is so much different from the earlier work. The previous work was in typical “self-help” style really keeping on target throughout and interjecting numerous quotes and principles – this more recent work is much more light-hearted and a very quick and easy read.
I found The Weekly Coaching Conversation to be somewhat of a conglomeration of several other books I have read, rolled up into a very interesting allegory about a young, newly promoted sales manager who happens to meet a sage who takes a liking to the young man and offers tutelage in the art of leadership. The story introduces – somewhat subliminally – servant leadership. It also draws upon the principles of another book – Sprout!: Everything I Need to Know About Sales I learned From My Garden. This includes the principle of preparing the soil before planting the seeds and knowing the conditions in which the seeds will thrive.
Anyone who has ever worked in sales is familiar with the principle of ABC – Always Be Closing. Here, Souza points to a slight variation for front line leadership – Always Be Coaching. This is really the heart of the matter of this book. Souza stresses that developing a “world class” team cannot be achieved with annual or even quarterly performance reviews. Excellence requires constant care and development.
He also stresses what I believe is an often overlooked principle. People get promoted often for no other reason that they are top performers in their field – be it sales or any other line of work – but that being a star performer hardly qualifies one to be an effective leader. There are countless examples of this in the sports world – athletes who were the best of the best at their respective sports but failed miserably when put into a coaching role, such as Michael Jordan, Ted Williams or Magic Johnson. It wasn’t that they didn’t know how excel at their respective sports – what they lacked was the ability to coach others how to be their best. It’s often that was in the business world as well. Top performers are given top consideration when it comes promotion time, but just because someone has the skill set to be a top performer doesn’t mean they have the skill set to lead others.
This book is really geared towards a newly promoted frontline manager but would be beneficial for most anyone in a team leadership position. The principles here can be applied to most any scenario – business, sports or military. The principles of leadership – and more specifically – team development, are the same. This is a very quick and easy read that I highly recommend.