Criticism creates anxiety. Coaching creates autonomy.

Criticism creates fear. Coaching creates courage.

Criticism creates robots. Coaching creates critical thinkers.

Criticism creates mediocre performers. Coaching creates high performers.

When leaders have metrics to meet, deadlines to hit, and bosses to answer to, the pressure can be too much. Sometimes that pressure comes out sideways, shifting their leadership style from democratic to autocratic.

Last year I had a summer college intern, and we hit a rough patch. My intern was missing deadlines. I not only felt pressure to deliver projects to my clients that included pieces of her work, but to also give her an experience that mirrored the real world.

I could have told my intern to figure out how to manage her time better, but that would have created anxiety.

I could have pointed out the ways she wasn’t meeting expectations, but that would have created fear.

I could have micromanaged her, but that would have created a robot.

Instead, I followed my own advice, Guide G Factor: coach instead of direct. I reminded her that she was learning my work style, what my business was about, and how to work in a business environment for the first time in her life, and these things take time. Then I invited her to reach out—text or email—when she had questions, because I wanted to help her take more initiative. I began asking questions like, “What do you think is the right solution?”, “What do you think is the next best step?”, “Why do you think that didn’t/did work?”, and “How can you do it differently?”, because I wanted her to learn how to think through roadblocks.

SHE DID IT! In fact, she rocked it! She grew in her confidence, skills, and professionalism. In May she had her senior showcase which included a piece she did during her internship with me among her other amazing work. In June she graduated from Carthage College with a Bachelors in Graphic Design and minors in Business Administration and Studio Art. Congratulations, Grace!

It is a powerful thing when leaders coach instead of criticize.

Check out Grace’s graphic design services: Grace Sakry Design