Developing the Coach Mindset




I like to break things down into easily understandable concepts. In previous articles I’ve touched on the benefits of taking on a coach’s mindset when working with clients. We are into the 4th quarter of the year, and there’s still time on the clock, which means we are “in” the game.

Whether it’s a game of sport, game of war, running a business or managing your financial game plan, the difference between winning and losing can be ever so slight. One of the first things a coach teaches his or her team is to play the game all the way through, to the last play, to the last second. It might make the difference between success and failure.

It’s been a volatile year for the financial markets and the world
in general. This is not unlike a competitive sports contest, which is often in a constant state of flux. It’s at times like these that a coach is needed to demonstrate leadership and keep the team on course. The team looks towards their coach for direction and to be the steady hand of reason.

A coach’s mindset should be focused on two things: making the players better and positioning the team for the best chance of success. This logic applies to our business, educating clients so they are armed with the information to make intelligent decisions with the idea of achieving better outcomes.
Let’s take a step back and look at how coaches develop and the personal growth they experience in doing so.

A major pillar of coaching is being prepared. I imagine you’ve heard it said that if you really want to learn a subject, teach a course on it. Coaching is nothing more than teaching. To be a good coach, you will need to study your craft so you can easily explain financial concepts without using a bunch of financial (or insurance) jargon. The study and preparation time you invest will pay dividends many times over. The old adage, “opportunity is the cross-section where preparation and hard work meet,” is certainly appropriate here.

Developing leadership skills is another skill gained when coaching. What do you do when everyone is looking to you for answers? Your ability to provide direction in tough times can be a determining factor in your quest to provide clients with better outcomes.

How do you become a better leader?
I’m a great believer in learning from those whose leadership skills are well established. Abraham Lincoln
is one that comes to mind. He’s one of my first heros, in part because we share the same birthdate. Lincoln won his first presidency by a very narrow margin. The county was splitting as the South mounted a secession campaign, the Union military was understaffed and undertrained and Lincoln had many detractors in government ranks that lent little support.

“Decisiveness is a talent that all great leaders possess. A good coach gathers all the information at hand, digests the data and makes an informed decision without looking back.”

Despite these obstacles, Lincoln was unwavering in his mission to keep the country together. He went through many generals to advance his cause. Lincoln gave his generals the latitude to act without his oversight if they had conviction for their plan and the united cause — and used their best judgment. Although he gave them free reign to command, it was never absent from his examination. Coaches place trust in their assistant coaches, field generals and players to execute the plan, but it’s always under the watchful eye of the executive commander. Lincoln also knew that the buck stopped with him. He let his subordinates take the credit for the wins and he took the burden of blame for their failures.

Another key to coaching is demonstrating the ability to communicate with staff and players. Lincoln exemplified tremendous skill in directing his leaders. He developed a non-aggressive way of communicating his expectations. Instead of issuing a direct order, he would offer a suggestion or submit a question that would have his subordinate think it was their own idea. In doing so they took more ownership of the plan.

Our clients are inundated with news blasts about doom and gloom, buy certain stocks, avoid certain stocks, offer certain products, coverages, etc. Clients are looking to you to help cut through the maze and help make sense of it all. Rather than telling your clients what to do, perhaps a well-placed question, inference, or suggestion might serve even better to help your client arrive at a conclusion.

One of the things I learned as a youth sports coach is that the people in the stands always know better than the coach what should be done. There were many a parent that felt I should be playing their son or daughter at a different position or deploying a game plan differently.

Decisiveness is a talent that all great leaders possess. A good coach gathers all the information at hand, digests the data and makes an informed decision without looking back. They don’t second guess themselves and they are willing to accept the consequences, win or lose. None of us can predict the future as advisors. What we can do is help lead our clients to make informed decisions and have the conviction to see the plan through.

Another great characteristic of great coaches and leaders is the ability to know when to lead, follow or get out of the way. In other words, they make decisions without ego. My father was a colonel in the Army who was very logical and pragmatic. One of the many things I learned from him was that a leader should be open to having his mind changed. He often said, “the truth is usually somewhere in the middle.” Great leaders make decisions based on whoever makes the best business case, regardless of their position in the organization.

Listen to your ‘foot soldiers’
Lincoln was also a great proponent of polling people in the field, from the generals all the way down to the foot soldiers. He spent more time out of the White House than in it during his terms. He knew that often it was the foot soldier who had valuable insight to contribute. Let’s remove ego and judgment in our decision making and be willing to listen to all resources that may have pertinent information.

As a financial or insurance coach, it’s also important to be fully accountable for your actions. This is most often achieved by simply being responsive, present and available. In my experience, one of the things that gets people upset is when they are kept in the dark by lack of communication.
Let’s sum things up.

Coaching provides a tremendous platform for personal growth and development. You learn your subject matter inside and out, you develop the ability to be an effective communicator, you hone your leadership skills, you learn to have conviction in your decisions, you are present and attentive to those you serve, and you learn to have conviction in your decisions even when obstacles are in the way.
Wishing you a strong end of the year and happy coaching.

GLENN CRAWFORD is a wealth asset manager, insurance broker, CDFA® & Mediator with Signature Resources Insurance and Financial Services. He’s also past president of NAIFA-Los Angeles. Glenn brings a coach-like approach to his advisory practice to help clients understand sound practices of financial planning.

Contact: Phone (818) 486-5053


This is the 4th is a series of quarterly guest articles by Glenn. You can find the previous articles at by searching under Glenn Crawford in the browser.