Everyone Needs a Coach to Reach Peak


Kevin Sheridan, CEO of Rutgers Permanent Painting, was considering refocusing his business on selling a new, higher-quality product. What finally pushed him to jump was Mark Green, one of more than 120 coaching partners with Gazelles.

Peak Performance: No one can experience peak performance without a coach. Star athletes and top business leaders understand this instinctively. It’s perplexing that most other business people don’t.

In Sheridan’s case, he knew the new product would be better for his customers – and more profitable. However, to make the change, he needed to stop doing interior painting, which was fairly profitable. “We had to say no to 40 percent of our clients to say yes to the new business,” he said.

It wasn’t easy. Sheridan says that Green pulled the whole team “screaming” to the other side and there are no regrets. “We’re going to have our most profitable year in four years,” Sheridan said.

Coaches vs. Consultants: Every company needs a coach. While consultants are expected to bring answers to tough problems, coaches are expected to ask the tough questions that help leaders face the brutal facts and uncover the problems that need to be solved in the first place.

Coaches facilitate decision-making, push teams to higher performance and hold the team (and the CEO) accountable.

Company Advocate: Companies need an advocate – someone on the outside helping the CEO identify what the team can do to help it thrive – and the ways the leadership team chokes off its growth.

Good coaches are not afraid to push your buttons to get to the truth. You’ll know your coach is onto something when you’re so upset that you’re ready to fire him or her. It‘s a sign that you’re working with the right person.

Accountability Driver: The most important benefit a coach brings is accountability.

Ask Jeff Berstein, of IMAGEFirst. One of his biggest challenges is communication, especially when employees are working from eight different locations, as is the case at IMAGEFirst.

That’s where Gazelles coach Patrick Thean helped. At his suggestion, Berstein began using a point system to track the steps key managers were taking to keep associates engaged, tabulating it weekly.

For example, when supervisors took line workers to lunch they’d be asked to snap a photo with the employees and email it in and earn points for doing it. They documented and published their weekly progress with dashboards that were shared across the company.

“A” Players: Both Green and Thean worked with the executives of Rutgers and IMAGEFirst to attract and develop talent, helping them to tap into hiring and interviewing techniques such as Topgrading. IMAGEFirst has increased its percentage of “A” players from 52 percent to 70 percent.

“We couldn’t do this on our own,” says Berstein. “It’s was more effective to bring Patrick in to keep us focused.”

It’s time to get your company an advocate – a coach that asks the tough questions, drives accountability and upgrades your talent. It’s one of the most important investments you can make.

Verne Harnish is the founder of Gazelles. Michael Synk is the founder of In-Synk and is the Gazelles Coach in Memphis. Contact Michael at msynk@in-synk.com.