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The Redbirds Get Homework, So Do Aspiring Leaders

A recent headline in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch was “Redbirds Get Homework”.  The President of Baseball Operations for the St. Louis Cardinals, John Mozeliak, outlined team plans so that the off-season time is productive for the players.  He described a customized approach for skill development that sounds very similar to what we attempt to do when we provide coaching for managers and leaders.  Mr. Mozeliak stated each player will have an off-season program that:  charts progress, monitors improvements, and is customized and collaborative so that “the players share in this goal of improvement.”

A good coaching program within a company or an organization also is customized and includes input from the coachee, managers, and colleagues who work with this individual, with an overall goal of addressing areas for improvement and maximizing success. When we outline a coaching plan, this includes specific desired goals and outcomes, parameters on how progress will be measured and monitored, along with periodic check-ins with the individual’s manager, so that the coaching plan can be updated and modified, as appropriate. And, in between coaching sessions, there are homework assignments. These may include readings, practicing a new skill, seeking feedback from a colleague, or self-monitoring one’s behavior in a challenging business situation or meeting.

Mr. Mozeliak further adds that the organization sees this type of program as a way of showing interest in the individual, with the tradeoff that the player also shows interest in his development and improvement.  He states, “We want to avoid getting into a comfort zone and a steady state, versus a chance to take a much bigger step forward.”

When presented appropriately, this is what coaching should be for any individual: stretching beyond your comfort zone and moving forward.  The company or organization is willing to invest in you, it is a collaborative and customized approach, and includes the same goal as the Cardinals so that “we hit the ground running and then don’t have to just catch up.”  Smart and agile companies and organizations know that playing “catch-up” is not enough, and, just like an athletic team, the skill and output of the team players are what helps win or lose the game.

We certainly hope the Cardinals get prepared for a new and winning season, and we want to help our client companies and organizations to achieve the same.

By: Henry J. Hummert, Ph.D.