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 The Craft of Coaching

The Craft of Coaching

By: Scott Spiker

Chairman of the Board / CEO

Apr 2, 2019 | 4 min. read

The best coaches are skilled at sharing their knowledge in a way that fits each individual’s needs.

Would it surprise you to learn that Tiger Woods and Serena Williams have personal coaches? I mean, after all, we are talking about the pre-eminent athletes in their respective sports. In fact, we may be talking about the pre-eminent athletes in the history of their sports. I’ll have to admit that my first, knee-jerk reaction when someone pointed this out to me several years ago was, “Why would these guys need anyone to tell them how to perform? And besides, who knows enough to tell Woods and Williams how to play golf or tennis better than they already do?” 

But after some reflection on what I’ve observed about the role of an effective coach, I realize now that it makes perfect sense for these two remarkably talented competitors to pay someone to coach them. It’s a popular misconception that a good coach must be more skilled at whatever sport or activity he is coaching than the individuals he coaches. The truth is that it’s far more important for a coach to be skilled at the craft of coaching

What does that mean? I’m glad you asked, because I’ve given it a good deal of thought over the last couple of years. I believe that a coach who is skilled at his craft is: 

  • Willing to take the time to gain a clear understanding of the strengths, weaknesses and key objectives of those he is coaching;
  • Able to inspire and motivate them to positive actions; 
  • Not just knowledgeable about his subject of expertise, but skilled at sharing that knowledge in a way that fits each individual’s needs;
  • And, perhaps most importantly, is willing and able to hold those he coaches accountable. 

As you’ve probably guessed by now, my keen interest in coaching is not incidental to my responsibilities at First Command. In fact, effective coaching has become central to much that we do at First Command. We invest significant time and resources in coaching our Advisors to master the diverse skills they need to serve as effective financial coaches to their clients. 

We have embraced this approach because experience has taught us that helping people effectively pursue their financial goals cannot be consistently accomplished simply by selling them investment or insurance products – or even by providing them with a financial plan. It can only be accomplished by forming the kind of trusting, long-term relationships that allow Advisors to continuously coach the productive financial behaviors that enable their clients to successfully execute their plans. 

 I suspect a typical advisor-client relationship is not altogether different from the relationship that Serena Williams and Tiger Woods have with their coaches. By necessity, both must be based on a foundation of mutual respect and trust, collaboration and accountability. And though coaching a famous athlete may be a more glamorous assignment, you’d have trouble convincing any First Command Financial Advisor that it’s more important than the work they do daily for deserving military families. 

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