As the SWSG South Florida AmeriCorps Leadership & Development Fellow, I have the privilege and honor of working both with our college mentors and professional women in the Miami community. As I’m wrapping up “Meet Your Match,” the kickoff event for SWSG’s Strong Leaders program, I’ve been reflecting on the roles of Leadership Coaches.
A crusty old English professor I once had in college used to advocate the following:
“To get where you want to go, you should talk to someone who has been there.”
For today’s college student, that may not be as easy because you are limited to the metaphorical bubble that is college life. Ideally, that’s where a Leadership Coach comes in. The Leadership Coach/Coachee relationship is a structured and trusting bond that brings together individuals who offer guidance, support, and encouragement aimed at developing competence and character. I would define a Leadership Coach as a wise and trusted counselor who influences our work and supports us along the way. You know, like Mr. Miyagi.
In The Karate Kid, Mr. Miyagi illustrates some of the core fundamentals of great coaching. He is nurturing, he finds unique ways to teach Daniel about ethical decision-making and humility, and has a mystique and charisma about him through his inspiring words and actions (Patience, young grasshopper). Like Mr. Miyagi, Leadership Coaches are not simply mentors, pouring knowledge into their pupil, but coaches, pulling out the best that our mentors have inside of them. We encourage our Leadership Coaches to imitate Mr. Miyagi by:

  • Establishing a positive and personal relationship
  • Keeping dedicated contact with the coachee
  • Sharing knowledge, expertise, advice, and growth experiences
  • Taking a personal interest in helping the coachee develop skills and
  • Encouraging positive behavior and self-awareness

Mr. Miyagi and Daniel weren’t always great together. Just as their relationship evolved, we hope our college mentors and their Leadership Coaches evolve through the phases of coaching. In order to do that, our college mentors need to imitate Daniel by:

  • Being proactive and motivated
  • Being committed and following through
  • Listening and asking questions and
  • Being ready and eager to learn

The Karate Kid’s two main characters can teach us much about what great coaching should look like. But it’s up to us to put it into action. The secrets of coaching, similar to the secrets of karate, lie in the mind and the heart.
I’ll leave you with a drop of Miyagi wisdom:
Miyagi: What matter?
Daniel: I’m just scared. The tournament and everything.
Miyagi: You remember lesson about balance?
Daniel: Yeah.
Miyagi: Lesson not just karate only. Lesson for whole life.
If only we all could have a Mr. Miyagi!