The Little Book of Talent: What Should You Look for in a Coach?

Little Book of Talent galley - can't wait to s...

Executive, career, and team coaches come in all flavors. How do you know who you should hire?

Daniel Coyle, author of the best seller The Talent Code, has a new book out, The Little Book of Talent: 52 Tips for Improving Your Skills.

Read it.

Coyle’s work has lots of great, research-based ideas on boosting talent, and even picking a coach to help you get where you want to go.

And what does Coyle suggest you  look for in a coach? Here are his 5 tips:

  • “Avoid someone who reminds you of a courteous waiter.” While polite is OK, effective is what you’re paying for. Their job is not to make you feel nice; you hire a coach to help you improve and have that improvement stick.
  • “Seek someone who scares you a little.”  Look for teachers and coaches who “watch you closely,” are “action-oriented,” and are truthful, “sometimes unnervingly so.”
  • “Seek someone how loves teaching [you] fundamentals.” Coaching is about getting your game up several notches; theory might be nice but the “what” and “how to” is critical.
  • “Other things being equal, pick the older person.” Experience, and a broad data set of what works and what doesn’t, counts.

Coyle’s ideas on ways for you to be a better teacher or coach?

  • “Use the first few seconds to connect on an emotional level.
  • Avoid giving long speeches – instead deliver vivid chunks of information.
  • Be allergic to mushy language (e.g. be precise, direct and specific).
  • Make a scorecard for learning.
  • Maximize reachfulness (e.g. stretch and practice).”

Good, helpful book, great research that underpins it, and terrific ideas delivered in a straightforward easy to use and digest manner.

Buy the book: it’s a great investment and you – or the folks you teach or coach – deserve it.

Life Back West is an occasional set of writings focused on ways people, teams and organizations can be both more effective (doing the right thing) and more efficient (doing the right thing well). More about executive, career and team / leadership coaching services can be found at the “About J. Mike Smith and Back West, Inc.” sidebar or the “Hire Me” tab above. You can also read an online interview with me at WhoHub, as well as participate in my learning community courtesy of KnowledgeCrush.

Photo credit: Mike Rohde. Little Book of Talent galley.

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