What the greatest coaches and leaders have in common

There’s one thing that unites all the high level teachers, leaders and coaches I’ve met. They make every individual feel like they’re being noticed. Like someone is tuned in to their journey and has a vested interest in their progression.

But how does a leader or teacher bring this feeling into existence? There’s two ways to do it. One natural and organic. The other, well, is not so natural. 

The unnatural way to do it is to be an information ace. To collect critical details about every person, build a profile from that knowledge, and manage the relationship. Check in every month or two. Ask questions or reach out at predetermined times. Monitor developments in their life and wherever possible, do small favours that net you considerable credit in the prospect’s mind.

Does that approach make your skin crawl? Here’s the problem. You have an aversion to treating people like a thing to be managed and monitored. You probably prefer to connect on a deeper level, rather than manufacture a connection based on some information you’ve collected about them and their lives.

Which brings us to the second way to make an individual feel noticed. It requires you to know much of the same information, but come at it from a very different angle.

Know their name. Know where they’re from and where they’re heading. Why they want to do what they’re doing. You need to understand their strengths, weaknesses and their tendencies. To understand and communicate with them in their preferred style. 

But you don’t attain this information by creating sophisticated information capturing systems. No, instead, you capture and retain it because you care. 

Every high level coach, teacher and leader makes each of their charges feel noticed and cared for because they actually notice and care about them.

In a class of forty students, an exceptional teacher can make every student feel like they have the special attention of the teacher. Over a longer period of time, the teacher can make each student feel like they have a close, personal relationship with the teacher. And they feel that way because the relationship is no illusion. It’s real.

The best coaches, teachers and leaders care about every individual, regardless of ability, background or trajectory. And because they care, every one of the people they are responsible for feels like the recipient of intense attention.

You know what happens as a result of this universal, individualised attention? Everyone gets better, faster. Because there’s nothing that enhances our performance like the gaze of someone who cares.