Trillion Dollar Coach: Team Coaching Lessons for Managers

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Jaap de Jonge
Editor, Netherlands

Trillion Dollar Coach: Team Coaching Lessons for Managers

Are you a manager or a coach? According to a new book by Google's Eric Schmidt, Jonathan Rosenberg and Alan Eagle there is little difference.

The Trillion Dollar Coach is a tribute to Bill Campbell. Campbell first coached professional football teams and then coached an immense list of top business leaders of US tech companies. For example, he worked for many years with Steve Jobs and Tim Cook (Apple), Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg (Facebook), Larry Page and Eric Schmidt (Google), and many other hotshots, before passing away in 2016 at the age of 75.

The essence of Campbell's thinking is that in order to be a top manager in an innovative firm you should act like a team coach. After all, the higher your management position, the more your success depends on making other people (your team) successful. See indeed: Leadership Pipeline.

In their previous book, "How Google Works", Schmidt and Rosenberg argued that you need to attract Smart Creatives in innovation companies. People who combine technical savvy, business understanding and creative flair. And you must build an environment in which these people can flourish at scale.

In their newest book, "Trillion Dollar Coach", they add one critical thing: You need to build teams that work well together.
To create such teams, you need to act like a COMPASSIONATE TEAM COACH, and provide the following key psychological factors to the individuals members, to the whole team, and to your entire firm:
  1. SAFETY (they can trust that if they take risks, you will have their back)
  2. CLARITY (of the mission and goals)
  3. MEANING (each one's contribution is important)
  4. DEPENDABILITY (of the members of each other)
  5. IMPACT (the feeling that team's mission will make a difference)
The authors write that it was not their intention to write a hagiography. Well, let's say they haven't fully succeeded. In a typical US style, the book is worshipping both Campbell, his ideas, and the famous people he coached. That is understandable out of respect for someone who passed away and was so deeply loved, but still it's a bit of a pity. Trillion Dollar Coach could have benefited from also describing the difficult events, disadvantages and failures of Campbell's life and ideas, in order to add more depth to his advices for managing and coaching. Here you can find more critical ideas about coaching by managers and leaders.

Having said that, I found the ideas and many practical tips and tools of Campbell important and valuable.
★★★★★ A must-read for any manager and coach.

Book: Eric Schmidt, Jonathan Rosenberg and Alan Eagle, "Trillion Dollar Coach - The Leadership Playbook of Silicon Valley's Bill Campbell", Harper Business, April 2019.

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