Coaching for Excellence: Building a Support Team During Times of Crisis

Coaching for Excellence: Building a Support Team During Times of Crisis

  |  April 21, 2020

Leading a purpose-driven organization takes work and vision — and it’s worth the hustle. But nobody said it was easy.


“Being a general manager or other co-op leader can be isolating,” says human resources consultant and leadership coach Melanie ReidAs we all navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, “general managers are even more isolated,” says strategy specialist and executive coach Art Sherwood. Seemingly endless decisions need to be made swiftly and smartly without sacrificing morale. It’s a tall order, and it’s the one general managers (GMs) must fulfill on a daily, even hourly, basis. 

In uncertain times, especially, finding support is vital. Find your advocate in a coach. Columinate’s executive coaches zero-in on you — not your bottom line, not your people, not your operations (although all of those will benefit) — to encourage your fullest potential. “I help leaders go from good to great and from great to exceptional,” says Sherwood. “As a leader, you need that person times a thousand right now,” adds Reid.  

“A coach is a person with whom you can be yourself, admit your shortcomings or fears, describe your strengths and aspirations, and sometimes be able to simply complain about the challenges you face,” adds GM mentor and coach Pam Mehnert

We are all on the same team, after all — through thick and through thin. Here are a few key plays in our coaching handbook, including the value of coaching during the pandemic.

The goal: Tailored just for you

“One of the things I really love about the Columinate program is that it is 100% customized to the client,” says Reid. You might have a specific and detail-oriented goal in mind or an organizational problem to solve. You might be feeling burned out but aren’t sure why. You might want to take your strategic thinking to the next level. Or you might want to know what your leadership style is to begin with. There’s no wrong answer here. What you get out of coaching is completely your call. 

In short, a coach is the person in your corner so you can best focus on your organization. “I am a confidential, empathetic accountability buddy, an encourager, a tough-question-asker, and someone who is 100% on the side of the client,” Sherwood says. 

Columinate coaches meet you where you’re at, and then they get creative. They ask questions. They listen. They support you — because they believe advocating for you will build your entire organization’s capacity. 

Finding your partner: Leveraging resources

Your relationship with a coach is paramount. “Throughout the process, you should feel heard, supported, challenged — and grow more confident in your own abilities as a leader,” says Mehnert. Mehnert is a seasoned GM pro; Reid specializes in human resources and broader leadership development; and Sherwood has polished his inspired executive perspective. They’re similar yet distinct. 

“This is coaching, not consulting,” says Sherwood. “I do both, and they are different things. In consulting, I provide advice and give answers on process or for technical work. In coaching, I partner with the client and the client drives the direction. By partnering with me, awareness can be built and understanding deepened and broadened, and forward movement happens.”

Once again, you have options here to find the right fit for you. What’s more, you might begin working with a coach and, in focusing on a particular goal, draw on the knowledge of another Columinate expert or coach. “We can leverage the larger Columinate community to give clients what they need,” Reid says. 

Coaching in the crisis: Common threads

Working with a coach will give you crucial perspective to think through current pandemic-related decisions. The professional space will “allow you to step into the leadership role that’s necessary in this particular time,” says Sherwood. 

Sherwood is currently working with a couple of GMs through the roller coaster of facing COVID-19. While there are, of course, many challenges, he says the standout theme is resilient capability. “They’ve put a leadership stake in the ground that says they are going to stay the course with and through this. … They’ve stepped up, and amazed themselves in the process.” 

Coaching in the future: Being prepared for uncharted territory

The specifics of a coaching engagement are as customized as the coaching itself — it depends on your needs. You can get your toes wet with a commitment as brief as 6 weeks. The best results come from relationships over the course of 6-9 months. 

Working with a coach usually means structured weekly check-in calls supplemented by an onsite visit, as well as, sometimes, accompanying retreat options. 

Some coaches give you goal-oriented homework; others don’t. You get the final say, and at the end, you’ll get a final report of the work you and your coach have completed together. 

Odds are, you’ll exceed your goal(s) and stumble upon new realizations, like those above-mentioned managers who amazed themselves with pandemic responses. “I work with clients to understand themselves, how they want to show up in the world, and the blocks that prevent this from happening or make it all difficult and costly,” Sherwood says. 

We all go farther when we go together. Trust a coach to guide you along the way, uncharted territory included. The impact of COVID-19 is constantly changing, and prioritizing time with a coach might feel like an item to add to the list for the imaginary future, “once this is over.” But investing in leadership is perhaps more important now than ever. “The number-one most important person in the co-op right now is the general manager,” says Sherwood. Empowering your co-op’s leadership — or yourself — is time and money well spent. 

Interested in learning more about coaching, but not sure where to start? Contact Jeanie Wells at [email protected]

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