Many years ago, I was Head of Department (HOD) at an awesome boutique Resort in beautiful Koh Samui, Thailand. It seemed that I’d reached a ceiling in my career path, and that becoming a General Manager (GM), the next step in my career advancement, seemed impossible.

That was until I witnessed my current GM at the time, Coach the HOD’s to solve a specific challenge that we were facing.

We needed to build a new staff canteen, and the project had been delayed & delayed. So the GM gathered all the HOD’s together, such as Front Office Manager (that was me), Housekeeping, Head Chef, Engineering, etc. As he gathered us all together, the GM asked us a very powerful question… ‘What do you think we should do‘?

Huh??!! Most GM’s TELL their HOD’s what to do!!

But instead, the GM patiently, calmly, purposefully asked each of us HOD’s, one by one, what we thought we should do.

And, he listened. He wrote down everyone’s suggestions, he was totally present & engaged, he thanked each of us, and he really acknowledged everyone’s input.

Sadly, at that time, I was a lot less patient and unwise in the skills of Leadership. So after 15 minutes, out of frustration and the demands of needing to set up a wedding on the beach, I blurted out “GM, it’s easy!! We knock this down, push that back, put a roof over there, put the equipment there. Done. Easy!!“. And with that, I stormed off with my arrogant self-importance, back down to the beach and my busy-ness.

The GM called 10 minutes later, ‘inviting’ me up to his office.

With more than a little anger, mumbling to myself the whole time “I don’t have time for this..“, I raced up to his office..

What??” I demanded. “Luke“, he replied “Thank you for ruining that whole process

What do you mean GM?! It was easy to decide what needed doing. Why the whole song & dance??” I inquired.
He calmly responded “Luke, of course I know what to do, but if I TELL the team what to do, chances are there will be resistance & zero ownership” he continued “But if I ASK the team what to do, they will share great idea’s, which are probably better than mine, they have contributed, they are ‘part of’ the process and will therefore take ownership & responsibility for the projects completion

Ohhhhhhhhhh” I replied sheepishly, “I get it…

And there it was. My introduction to Coaching in the workplace. Less TELLING and more ASKING !!

I applied the new knowledge immediately with my team, and saw instant results. I was so inspired by the whole process of Coaching, that within 3 short months, I applied for a GM role at another Resort, and got the job!!

Those exact same principles of Coaching, plus more advanced Coaching methodologies, have continued to propel me forward to other GM, MD & CEO roles.