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The Latest Leadership Craze: Caboose Coaching


What could be more helpful to a leader than having nearly 24/7 real-time access to an experienced coach who literally follows him or her around throughout the day? That’s what many organizations are providing in an effort to enhance leadership effectiveness and shorten time to productivity.  And it’s called ‘caboose coaching’.

Understanding the Engine

Here’s how it works.  A seasoned coach shadows a leader, following her through meetings, interactions, individual work and more. The beauty of the approach is that the coach is present at key points in the day, available to intervene, correct, and give in-the-moment direction to ensure the best possible results. The coach solves problems, makes decisions, and instructs the leader on the actions to initiate each step of the way.

Additionally, because the coach has witnessed the leader’s full day, he’s in a position to engage in a detailed review of the 25-30 key ‘crossings’ or moments of truth during which the leader struggled or fell short.  These ‘crossing conversations’ close out each day and can last anywhere from 90 minutes to three or even four hours depending on the skill of the leader and coach.

Finally, because the coach is privy to everything done by the leader, he can help cover the leader’s, organization’s, and even his own caboose by resolving and fixing issues not properly addressed during the day.

April Fools!

Caboose coaching doesn’t (or shouldn’t) exist!  In fact, it’s the worst and least helpful approach available to supporting leadership success.  Effective coaching is all about helping and facilitating insights, growth, and development.  It’s about asking versus telling. It’s about guiding versus intervening. Effective coaching allows people to make mistakes, struggle, even fail… and extract powerful lessons from the experiences.

Talented coaches don’t need to follow others around because they’re skillful at helping those around them reflect on their activities, challenges, and accomplishments themselves.  And their conversations need not be lengthy… in fact, a few good questions can unlock tremendous insights and inspire focused action.

Finally, effective coaching is never about doing for others, fixing their issues, or solving  problems for them. It’s about providing the support required so they can grow and learn to do for themselves in an ever-expanding way.

So, let’s make sure that we stay on track…. letting leaders remain the conductors of their own work lives. No caboose coaching!

What about you? What other foolish coaching should we make sure to avoid on April Fool’s Day and every day?


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