If I Were Running A Company…Bosses to Coaches

Written by Tracy

Although I did not attend the SHRM Conference in Orlando this year, I was paying attention in the twitter stream. I’ll be honest, there wasn’t much from the stream, from an outsider point of view, but there was one part I was intrigued by from Yum! Brands CEO, David Novak:

I completely agree with David on this.

It used to be that if you’re the boss, you can control the room because your title says you’re above the others and other employees have no other option in their time. Now, with starting a business becoming more friendlier, a “free agent” world where anyone can go anywhere, and more options for people; the boss can’t do the same things like they have in the past. The current, prototypical boss have to relate to their employees and understand what they’re going through.

A great example of this is in sports. You used to have managers and coaches yell and scream to get attention, either to the players and referees, because they were in control and act like they know everything. In today’s sports world, coaches and managers need to relate to the players of how to approach their respective sport better.

The first person to actually capture this trend was Pete Carroll twenty years ago, when he was head coach for the New York Jets for one season. At the time, the NFL coaches, some of the players, and the media ridicule Carroll’s methods of being a player-friendly coach. Carroll had another NFL coaching gig with the New England Patriots from 1997-1999, and then was the sixth choice to be USC’s head football coach in 2000 and made them into a college football powerhouse with the same methods he employed when he was in the NFL. After a successful run at USC (and the Reggie Bush incident) he returned to the NFL in 2010 to coach the Seattle Seahawks and this past year, his team won the Super Bowl in a 43-8 blowout over the Denver Broncos.

Pete Carroll’s success has lead to other sports teams finding former players to become either a coach/manager or a general manager because they understand how the current player thinks and acts because they used to be in that role. This is the manager of today. Bosses can’t be controlling and worried about keeping a job. The “new boss” passes down and guides the employees to navigate the company. The “new boss” has been in the trenches and understands what employees have been going through and find ways to make their employees better, either as individuals or as a team.

Why not stop at the workplace when you can use this at college? The problem with some colleges is they teach about the business through keywords and terms. It’s great students learn the terminology, but at some point they need to put that in practice. Why not bring in former employees and managers to show the ropes of business students of how a business really functions? Colleges can still have their research and studies, but college is about experimentation and for the students to get a job in the workplace when they graduate, they need a guided hand. I think a manager or employee can fill that role.

When you think of boss, you think of the words controlling, demanding, emotional and bottom line. Throw that out the window and managers need to think of these words: relate, building, wisdom, guidance, legacy, and pipeline. These are not words that you’re not turning old; these are words to keep your business going.

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