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See Something – Say Something


While passing through airport security during a recent business trip, I looked up to see a poster featuring TSA’s request that if travelers see something, they should say something. It struck me that this is excellent advice for air safety—but also for coaching.

Too frequently, leaders treat coaching as a discrete activity that they plan for, schedule, and conduct in a formal fashion. It becomes episodic—structured points in time when employees are shown focused attention during which they are encouraged to grow, stretch, and improve.

The problem is that employees crave that attention all year long. And there are countless times during a normal workday when employees might be right on the verge of developmental or performance breakthroughs… if only someone were to offer an observation, question, or encouragement.

So, as leaders, we must rethink what coaching is and how it operates to support optimal results.

Coaching is no longer the… Coaching is the…
Semi-annual trip to the dentist Brushing after each meal
Once-a-year spring cleaning Daily dusting and tidying up
Big sit-down feast Snacking for day-long energy

Employees (and businesses) face conditions that are dynamic and disruptive. Flourishing in this environment demands frequent touch points, up-to-the-minute information and perspectives, and ever-present versus episodic coaching. And that’s where ‘see something—say something’ fits in.

Leaders who are attuned to the environment—who connect with their people and are sensitized to what’s happening around them—see countless opportunities to offer in-the-moment coaching every day. They seize seemingly mundane and meaningless moments to drive insights, motivation, action, and change.

They see a mistake as an opportunity to say, “what did you learn from that?”

They see an evolving customer need as an opportunity to say, “what skills will help you exceed those expectations?”

They see hesitation when an employee takes on a new task as an opportunity to say, “how do you see this fitting into the big picture?”

They see a dip in motivation as an opportunity to say, “what would bring more energy and joy to your work?”

Effective leaders don’t ‘batch’ their coaching. They sprinkle it in generously day-in and day-out. They seize what others might gloss over as insignificant. They know that leveraging small openings over time will lead to big changes.

‘See something – say something’ is a way to contribute to air safety. But it’s also a strategy for allowing one’s leadership to take flight.

So, what do you see around you? And what are you going to say?


  1. Absolutely spot on. Some times employees just want that listening ear and the opportunity to express an opinion. Leaders must learn to listen more and do less talking.

    Keep up your good works.

    • Thank you, Henry! I agree. Sometimes we just need the opportunity to think out loud. And leaders who are able to recognize this and hold that space offer an invaluable service to those around them. Here’s to honoring the fact that we have two ears and one mouth by using the former more and the latter less!


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