What can coaches learn from their mothers?

Dave Winsborough
February 28, 2023

“Life doesn't come with a manual, it comes with a mother."

For unbridled hope, persistence, and belief in you as an individual, nothing compares to your mother. For one thing, no matter what you’ve done, she will still believe you can improve. And for another, you can’t really hide from your mum – excuses never cut the mustard.

So, for all managers who want to be better coaches, here’s sensible wisdom that your mother would tell you...

Hold on to hope
In the same way that mothers believe that even their ugliest duckling will grow into a winsome swan, good coaches hold hope for their people. Sometimes staff can’t see how they will change, or master a skill. It often falls to a coach to be a container for confidence and hope that they can get there.

Support the ebb and flow
One of the great mysteries of management is the way that leaders get upset when mistakes are made or people fail at a task. Mothers, on the other hand, know that the process of learning to walk involves more falls than steps, and more bruises than balance. Knowing that, they applaud small wins and are there to pick you up when you tumble. Good coaches get that too.

Coach the journey, not the destination
If you ever watch a small child baking with their mum, you’ll quickly see that the end goal is not going to match the picture in the recipe. But good mums tolerate floury faces and eggy floors because the process is as important as the end goal. And sometimes better fun.

Listen, listen, and listen some more
When someone is in the midst of learning a new skill, they’ll often need to talk about what they did in toe-curling detail. That sounds a lot like the endless witter of small kids when they tell you "And then, and then, and then . . . ". Mothers have a marvelous tolerance for flow of words, and the ability to listen out for the interesting nugget in the flood. Good coaches listen. And listen. And listen some more.

The best coaches are those that are able to draw from many influences and experiences, and pass on this wisdom to their clients. What role models or life lessons should you share with your team?

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