Goal setting is another key competency for coaches. I need to be able to help my team members set clear and achievable goals, and develop plans and strategies for achieving those goals.

The number one leadership initiative in any organization today is improved coaching. Coaching empowers employees, empowerment drives engagement, and engagement drives performance. At its core, coaching is about transformation. Leading distributed teams requires transforming how we coach and changing our play calls and playbooks to get things done. As a part of our interview series called “Moving From Command & Control to Coaching & Collaboration; How Leaders and Managers Can Become Better Coaches,” we had the pleasure to interview Dave Kerpen.

Dave Kerpen is a serial entrepreneur, New York Times best-selling author, and global keynote speaker. Dave is the co-founder and co-CEO of Apprentice, a platform that connects entrepreneurs with the brightest college students to solve their biggest business challenges. Kerpen has written several bestselling books, including The Art of People, and is a popular contributor for Inc.com and LinkedIn’s Influencer program.

Thank you for joining us to explore a critical inflection point in how we define leadership. Our readers would like to get to know you better. What was a defining moment that shaped who you are as a leader?

When we hit our first million dollars in revenue for our first company, (then called theKbuzz, would be renamed Likeable), it felt like an inflection point for me. All of a sudden, I realized, “Hey, we’re really building something here, and I need to step up and lead the way!”

John C. Maxwell is credited with saying, “A leader is someone who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” How do you embody that quote as a leader?

As a leader, I try to embody that quote by John C. Maxwell by always learning and looking for ways to improve. I try to lead by example and go the extra mile for my team and organization. I also try to share my knowledge and experience with others, and to be a mentor and guide for those looking to develop their own leadership skills. I believe that being a leader means taking risks and inspiring others to achieve their full potential. I also try to be authentic and transparent, and to create a positive, inclusive culture within my organizations. It’s important to have empathy and to connect with others on a deeper level, not just inspiring and motivating them, but also supporting and encouraging them when they face challenges. And true leadership is about serving others and creating positive change in the world.

How do you define the differences between a leader as a manager and a leader as a coach?

When it comes to leadership, there are clear differences between managing and coaching. As a manager, one’s primary focus is on overseeing the work of your team and making sure that tasks and goals are being met. As a coach, however, my focus is on helping individuals grow to their fullest potential and develop their skills and abilities.

There are several reasons the coaching model is superior to managing. First, it allows us to build stronger relationships with our teams. By helping people grow and develop, we can create a deeper level of trust and connection. This leads to greater loyalty and commitment from team members, which is important in times of change or uncertainty.

Second, coaching allows us to have a more positive impact on our teams and organizations. By helping people improve their skills and achieve their goals, we can create a culture of continuous learning and growth. This leads to more job satisfaction and engagement, which then leads to better performance and results.

Finally, coaching allows us to be more flexible and adaptable as leaders. By helping people develop their own skills and knowledge, we can better respond to changing needs and demands within our organizations. This can help us stay competitive and relevant in today’s fast-paced business world.

So, overall, coaching is a more effective and rewarding approach to leadership than managing. It allows us to build stronger relationships with our teams, have a more positive impact on your organization, and be more flexible and adaptable as a leader.

Most people have a negative response when you talk about “managers,” but everyone loves a good coach!

We started our conversation by noting that improved coaching is the number one leadership initiative in any organization today. What are some essential skills and competencies that leaders must have now to be better coaches?

There are a few key skills and competencies that leaders need to have in order to be better coaches. One of the most important is empathy. It’s really crucial for leaders to be able to understand and connect with their team members on a deeper level. That means being able to listen actively and non-judgmentally, and really try to see things from others’ perspectives — to really step into their shoes.

Another key skill is communication, most importantly, listening. As a coach, I need to be able to listen carefully to the needs, wants, and challenges of my leaders, clearly convey expectations, give feedback, and provide support and guidance to my team members. So, being able to communicate effectively is really important.

Feedback is also a big part of coaching, and leaders need to be able to give clear, specific, and actionable feedback that helps their team members improve and grow.

Goal setting is another key competency for coaches. I need to be able to help my team members set clear and achievable goals, and develop plans and strategies for achieving those goals.

Mentorship is also important. As a coach, I often double as a mentor, providing guidance and support to help your team members grow and develop their skills and knowledge.

Finally, adaptability is key. As a coach, I need to be able to adapt to the needs and goals of my team members, and be flexible in your approach to coaching.

We’re all familiar with the adage, “You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.” How are you inspiring — rather than mandating — leaders to invest in upskilling and reskilling?

There are a few ways to inspire rather than mandate leaders to invest in upskilling and reskilling. One way is by setting a good example and showing the value of continuous learning and development. I try to do this by sharing my own experiences and successes, as well as the challenges and failures I’ve encountered along the way.

Another thing I try to do is create a culture that values and supports continuous learning and development. This might involve providing resources and support for training and development, or recognizing and rewarding people who take the initiative to upskill and reskill themselves.

I also try to highlight the benefits that these investments can bring to the organization. You know, things like increased productivity, improved performance, and the ability to stay competitive and relevant in today’s fast-paced business world.

So, the key is to create a positive and supportive culture that values continuous learning and development, and to clearly communicate the benefits of investing in upskilling and reskilling to both the organization and individual leaders.

There are a couple of emotional trigger words as well which tend to inspire others: “Imagine” helps people dream big. “Celebrate” makes people feel good about what’s already been accomplished. And most important, “I’m grateful for you because,” helps people feel valued.

We’re leading and coaching in increasingly diverse organizations. And one aspect of workforce diversity on the rise is generational diversity. What advice would you offer about how to effectively coach a multi-generational workforce? And how do you activate the collective potential of a multi-generational workforce

In terms of coaching a multi-generational workforce, it’s important to first understand the unique characteristics and values of each generation. For example, baby boomers tend to place a high value on loyalty and respect for authority, while Gen Xers are more independent and prioritize work-life balance. And millennials often prioritize purpose and personal development in their careers. By understanding these differences, I can tailor my coaching approach to the needs and motivations of each individual employee.

I also believe it’s important to create a culture of inclusivity and transparency, where all generations feel welcome and valued. This can be achieved through open communication and regular opportunities for collaboration and learning.

To really activate the collective potential of a multi-generational team, it’s crucial to leverage the diverse perspectives and experiences of all team members. Encourage everyone to share their unique insights and ideas, and create a space where they can openly discuss and debate different approaches. By fostering a culture of collaboration and innovation, we can tap into the full potential of our multi-generational team.

You’re referring to emotional intelligence, in a sense. What are two steps every leader can take to demonstrate a higher level of emotional intelligence?

Sure, so when it comes to demonstrating a high level of emotional intelligence as a leader, it’s really important for building strong relationships, driving employee engagement, and ultimately achieving success. There are a few key things you can do to demonstrate a higher level of EQ. One is practicing self-awareness. This means regularly taking time to reflect on your own emotions and how they impact your thoughts and behaviors. It can also be helpful to seek feedback from others to get a more accurate understanding of yourself. Another thing you can do is show empathy. This means being able to understand and share the feelings of others. As a leader, it’s important to be able to put yourself in the shoes of your employees and show genuine concern for their well-being and development. You can do this by actively listening to their perspectives and concerns, and being open to feedback and constructive criticism. By demonstrating empathy, you can build trust and strengthen your relationships with team members.

Words matter. And we’re collectively creating a new leadership language right now. What are the most important words for leaders to use now?

When it comes to leadership language, words really do matter. We’re all in the process of creating a new leadership language right now. There are a few key words that are particularly important for leaders to use. The first is empathy. This means being able to understand and share the feelings of others, and it’s an important skill for building strong relationships, driving employee engagement, and achieving success. Another important word is inclusivity. In today’s diverse and globalized world, it’s more important than ever for leaders to create a culture of inclusivity, where everyone feels welcomed and valued. Authenticity is crucial. This means being genuine and true to oneself, and it’s an essential quality for building trust and credibility with team members. By being authentic and transparent, leaders can create a positive and open culture that fosters collaboration and innovation.

When people greet each other, they always ask how you’re doing. The typical answer used to be, “Fine.” That’s changed a bit because of how busy people are. Now, the typical answer is, “Busy,” or, “Good,” or, “OK.”

When people ask me how I’m doing, I say, “Fantastic.” Because you know what? At the end of the day, I am fantastic. It absolutely gets people’s attention every single time. They’re like, “Oh, wow, I want to hang out with you. What are you on? What’s going on with you? Why are things so awesome?”

The other word that I talk about is more in the sense of when I am addressing my company or giving a speech. I love using the word, “Imagine.” We all love to think big and imagine. It’s kind of like that childlike innocence still in us. No matter how jaded or cynical you are, and I’m a New Yorker so I know lots of very jaded and cynical people… When you hear the word “imagine,” it opens things up a little bit for people

I keep inspiring quotes on my desk. What’s your favorite “Life Lesson Quote,” and why does it mean so much to you?

My favorite quote is from entrepreneur and marketing genius Seth Godin; “How dare you settle for less when the world has made it so easy to be remarkable.”

This quote resonates with me because most people go through life missing the basics: authenticity, gratitude, kindness, and ambition. Each day, I try to be remarkable knowing that it’s not as hard as some might think.

Our readers often like to continue the conversation. What’s the best way for readers to connect with you and to stay current on what you’re discovering?

Folks can follow me on LinkedIn of course! I also offer free office hours for anyone that wants to meet with me every Thursday afternoon at ScheduleDave.com

Thank you for a meaningful conversation. We wish you continued success with your mission.