I Gotta Know! How Does That Coach Do It?

woman coach explaining to man

Last month we talked about “coaching excellence” and the newsletter offered articles and tips on how to excel as a coach/mentor/leader. This month’s blog is a continuation of that theme, with a few more “secrets” to share as you continue down the path to coaching excellence.

While I knew that my good military ride would come to an end eventually, why did I have to retire when I had finally figured the “leadership game” out, and still had so much to offer to the Navy?

It took me 30+ years of military service to find, develop, and refine my leadership style. The cocky, arrogant leader I was as a young junior officer drastically changed as I was given assignments of greater authority and responsibility, and was “checked” by colleagues (both senior AND junior) that I worked with during my career. And just when I felt that I had it right, the Navy thanked me for my honorable service and kindly suggested that it was time to retire. While I knew that my good military ride would come to an end eventually, why did I have to retire when I had finally figured the “leadership game” out, and still had so much to offer to the Navy?

young man speaking to group

The beauty of my work with Bill and Giant Leap Consulting since retiring has been the opportunity to share my leadership experiences from a unique and unconventional profession with you all. I always look forward each month to sharing what I did right in my career, and also, what I did wrong. And to be upfront…I learned more about how to be a better leader/officer from what I did wrong than what I did right during my career! Go figure out that logic.

Coach’s tip(s) for the month: Here are a couple of recommendations that helped me be a better coach/leader/mentor:

  • Be consistent. If you’re “hard” in your leadership style, stay hard. If you’re quiet, and less of an authoritarian, stay that way. The absolute worst leadership style I saw in the military were leaders who started “soft,” and then tried to become harder and more authoritative as they spent more time in charge. This waffling style never worked, and it ultimately confused the sailors as they tried to figure out who the boss was and how they wanted things to be done.
  • Walk the Deckplates. The very best thing I did in the Navy, was to push away from my desk and walk the “deckplates” of my unit where the actual work of my unit was being done. It was there that I could talk directly with my people, get the ground truth on the issues that were affecting the command’s overall performance, and get honest feedback from my sailors on what was (and wasn’t) working. You’re absolutely fooling yourself as a leader if you think you can run things solely from sitting at your desk in your climate-controlled office. Do a walkabout!
young woman coaching young woman
  • Know your people. A carry-over from last month’s blog, and for a good reason! You absolutely cannot coach/lead/mentor everyone the same. A successful coach never stops learning and growing. 
  • Talk to your people….not down to them. Everyone knows you’re the boss, you don’t need to remind people of your status. Talk/treat your people how you want to be treated.

That’s it for this month! See you all in September!

About John Havlik

CAPT John “Coach” Havlik, U.S. Navy SEAL (Retired), led special operations teams around the world during his 31-year naval career, to include the Naval Special Warfare Development Group, the SEAL’s most elite operational unit. CAPT Havlik was a nationally-ranked swimmer, and is a member of the West Virginia University Sports Hall of Fame and Mountaineer Legends Society. @CoachHavlik www.CoachHavlik.com

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