9 Takeaways from Conscious Coaching: The Art & Science of Building Buy-In

by Stuart Gutwein

At Gutwein Law, we live by the idea of continuous learning and improvement. In fact, it's one of our five core criteria when evaluating potential employees to join our team. We feel it's not only beneficial to ourselves, but we hope it ultimately impacts our clients and others around us in a positive way. So, in addition to attending CLE's, volunteering for speaking engagements, mentoring, judging panels, and holding internal cross-training sessions, we read. A lot.

One of my latest and more valuable reads is a book by Brett Bartholomew called Conscious Coaching: The Art & Science of Building Buy-In. If you're not familiar with the title, Conscious Coaching provides insight on how to be a better leader, not only in sport, but in the workplace and in life in general. Although it was originally intended for strength and conditioning coaches, the principles and lessons throughout can be applied to leaders in any framework. The book details four components of the coaching compass: buy-in, relationships, social intelligence, and time. In a nutshell, Bartholomew brings a more balanced approach to coaching that involves science and art.

I originally picked up this book for a few reasons. The first, and maybe the more straightforward of the reasons is that I have the pleasure of coaching youth baseball in my time away from the office. And as Yogi Berra said about buy-in, "Baseball is ninety percent mental and the other half is physical." The next reason is that I have four young children at home who want to play sports, and I want to be an effective coach to them on and off the field. While in the process of building a home gym for them and the family, I want to ensure I'm being the best resource I possibly can. Finally, over the past five years, I've been focusing on building a law practice in which I want to keep the team moving in the same direction, while building leaders within the firm.

With those reasons in mind, here are nine key points I took away from the book that can be helpful for any leader:

  1. What makes a conscious coach (or leader, for that matter): A conscious coach is someone who has the ability to make decisions with the bigger picture always in mind, while balancing the science and art of coaching. Everything they do is strategic, yet natural: from the way they alter their tone of voice, to how they give direction, to their posture and body language. Again, these ideas are completely transferrable to any leader.
  2. Why buy-in is a leader's best friend: Buy-in (or trust) is imperative to earn for any successful coach or leader. Bartholomew explains the importance for buy-in as it’s the impetus for growth, progress, and action. In addition, he explains that buy-in is built overtime through loyalty, results, and consistent positive actions. In other words, trust isn't built overnight, but it's almost certain the investment in time will pay off eventually.
  3. Building trust = generating success: Bartholomew suggests in order to get athletes to move physically, you must first get them to move psychologically and emotionally. While our firm isn't completely made up of athletes, you can say the same about any of our team members. Building confidence, trust, and belief within our firm's product will ultimately result in better service to our clients and growth of the firm.
  4. The art of relationships: As Bartholomew puts it: relationships are the foundation of influence we have on others. But as a leader, it's also important to foster relationships between others on your team in order for them to work together to achieve a common goal through a high-level of understanding.
  5. Social intelligence > job competence: Obviously, both are important. But as attorneys, we place a great deal of importance on intellect, especially when it comes to our problem solving abilities. However, as a leader, social intelligence is just as, if not more, important. It's the ability to navigate and influence social relationships and environments. It also means as leaders we must have the ability to recognize how one situation differs from another, and how to adjust our behavior to match those demands.
  6. To improve, get to know yourself: To be an impactful leader, you must first know yourself. Your strengths, weaknesses, personality type, etc. That's why, at Gutwein Law, we make sure each of our team members undergoes a DiSC Assessment. It not only allows our employees to get to know their current personality and working style, but how they want to grow personally and professionally.
  7. Then get to know others: Whether clients or fellow team members, it's vital you get to know the people (what drives them, how to connect with them, and their past) that surround you. In order to have influence on these individuals, you must go through the stages of conscious coaching with them. Bartholomew outlines several archetypes of personalities (i.e., the technician, the soldier, and the mouthpiece), which is helpful when categorizing and understanding the personality types of those around you.
  8. Don't jump to conclusions: As lawyers, people often come to us with a problem. And because we're paid to, we come up with a solution. But how you find the solution can make all the difference. As a conscious coach, you must seek the underlying cause of the problem, not simply look at the surface and find a solution blinded by bias or lack of knowledge. When meeting with clients, we don't look for patterns, we look for the unique aspects of their situation.
  9. Lastly, a quote to keep you improving your coaching craft: "The fools in life want things fast and easy – money, success, attention. Boredom is their great enemy and fear. Whatever they manage to get slips through their hands as fast as it comes in.  You, on the other hand, want to outlast your rivals. You are building the foundation for something that can continue to expand.  To make this happen, you will have to serve an apprenticeship.  You must learn early on to endure the hours of practice and drudgery, knowing that in the end all of that time will translate into a higher pleasure – mastery of a craft and of yourself.  Your goal is to reach the ultimate skill level – an intuitive feel for what must come next." – Robert Greene

As a business law firm, we naturally work with a lot of leaders, so I want to hear from you. What are your thoughts? What does it mean to be a conscious coach? How do you motivate and inspire others around you? Leave a comment or give me a call at 765.423.7900 to talk further.