Music is a big part of my life. Aside from the fact that my family is full of musicians, my undergraduate degree is actually in music. I spent my college years learning the ins and outs of music.

So I love shows like ‘The Voice.” I know what great talent sounds like, and I love watching talented performers. As I watched the show last night, a leadership principle struck me.

If you’re not familiar with the format of The Voice, let me explain: Contestants sing a 90-second audition song with a live band. The celebrity coaches are in chairs with their backs turned to the performer. If the coach likes their voice, they push a button and turn around. If multiple coaches push their button, they “fight” over who the singer should pick. A coach is a chosen, and the singer goes on to the next round.

The biggest difference

Did you notice the word I used to describe the celebrities? Coach. Normally in an audition process, the people listening to the singer are called judges. That was the word used in American Idol. Singers performed a song with no music, and the judges interrupted at any point to stop them.

What originally made American Idol so popular was the intensity of the critiques. The episodes at the beginning of each season showcased great singers, but also bad ones. And it was guaranteed that the bad singers would receive the harshest of criticisms.

Yet when The Voice appeared on the scene, they took a much different approach. The overall tone is positive and encouraging, even with the folks who don’t get picked. There is a sense of positivity in the rejection, and people leave with the knowledge to improve.

Importance of being a coach

What works for The Voice works for your team. Gallup released a survey earlier this year focused on how millennials want to live and work. One statistic jumps out: millennials are more than twice as engaged at work if they meet with their supervisor on a regular basis.

But all generations are twice as engaged if they’re given regular feedback from their supervisor. People desire improvement in their work, but they can’t improve if they aren’t told how to improve.

Enter coaching.

As a leader, you can coach your team to be better. You have the opportunity to propel them forward in their life and leadership.

How to coach from ‘The Voice’

But how can you do it? If you’ve never coached before, what do you do? Let’s look at 3 things we can learn about coaching from The Voice:

  1. Be Positive No one likes a Negative Nancy of Debbie Downer. People respond to those who are positive, even when things don’t go well. Not everyone on The Voice is a fantastic singer, yet the coaches intentionally remain positive. What can you learn? Offer feedback for improvement in a positive way, and people will respond well.
  2. Propel Forward Anyone who is great at something is constantly moving forward. They have a goal, and they work towards achieving that goal. A great coach helps propel others towards a specific goal. The goal on The Voice is to improve as a singer and ultimately win the show. When coaches give feedback, they give it in a way that the singer can learn and grow. What can you learn? Give feedback that leads the person forward towards their goal. Maintain a laser-like focus on improvement.
  3. Discover identity One of the biggest challenges in life is discovering your identity: what do you do better than anyone else? What makes you different? Discovering identity is perhaps the biggest challenge on The Voice. If a singer doesn’t know who they are, they struggle to succeed. What can you learn? A coach guides you to discover who you really are. They don’t tell you, but they will challenge you to discover who your true identity. This journey in identity and self-discovery is perhaps the most important thing a coach can do.

So let me ask you: how have you grown from coaching?

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