Hey Coach: Put Me In

Odds are you’ve heard the phrase “Hey coach, put me in!”. This really resonates with the leadership style required for going forward. If you’re a leader, replace that with coach.

Coach or Mentor

Think of some of the great sports coaches in history. Adolph Rupp, John Wooden, Phil Jackson, Pat Summit, and Jimmie Johnson. Really, the list could go on. These coaches all knew how to motivate and inspire their players to give their best. Why aren’t we doing the same in our organizations?

The Coach and I

Looking back at some of my greatest learning opportunities in life have come from sports coaches that I had the pleasure of being mentored by. Although most of these came in a time of my life where they were boss, and sometimes second parents, the great coaches felt like mentors.

Coaches have the responsibility to build you up to better the whole team. Their criticism is constructive, their mission respectable, and their purpose is clear. Sure, they can tell you what to do or you don’t play, but coaches are most effective when they help you grow from a desire within, rather than a mandate. Managers could learn so much from the coaching mentality.

Coaching vs. Mentoring

Coaching and mentoring in the workplace seem to have exploded over the last few years. My wife’s firm has coaches and players where senior staff coach new and younger staff as players into the firm’s success. Leveraging the desire to grow and learn from a constructive manner, with regular feedback, the coaching and mentoring philosophies make a lot of sense, especially with the younger generations (Millennials).

Millennials have a huge desire to grow and develop. Most want to be productive employees, but it requires the right circumstances for engagement. First, give them the why, then you have to develop them, finally help them grow through feedback. All things great coaches do to inspire their teams.

Coaching and mentoring have some similarities, mainly the stark difference from years of simply do as I say. The concept of coaching and mentoring are not new. For centuries apprentices served under masters who committed fully to training up the next generation of their respected trade. In modern times, coaching and mentoring have different applications, which I review below.


  • Typically, more structured
  • Task oriented
  • Shorter term
  • Designed to enhance performance in a specific area or areas
  • Pinpoint focus


  • Generally informal in structure
  • Relationship oriented
  • Long term
  • Aimed at developing the whole person
  • Broader focus

Having a coach that is beneficial, constructive, and committed makes employee engagement more realistic in my opinion. If you have an organization that is struggling with engagement, maybe a coaching and/or mentoring program is for you. It may be what it takes for your disengaged employees to say “hey coach, put me in!”


Question: What experiences have you had with a coach or mentor? Would you want to for the first time or again (whatever applies to you)? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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