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Giving a 'voice' to lessons learned: Coaching and mentoring in action


Guiding someone’s career path and growth is an awesome responsibility, and should not be taken lightly.


Guiding someone’s career path and growth is an awesome responsibility, and should not be taken lightly.


Dispensing Solutions By Arthur De Gennaro

I have a confession to make. I am addicted to the NBC program, “The Voice.” I have watched nearly every episode, every season. When I travel, my wife records the programs so they can be viewed when I return. I don’t like to miss a single segment.

For those who are not familiar with “The Voice,” it is a reality program. Singers of all genres of music compete. Four celebrity coaches audition singers blindly. Not seeing the singers forces the coaches to concentrate solely on the singer’s voice. Coaches create teams by selecting singers they think can go far in the contest.

Once the teams are set, the competition begins. A number of singers are eliminated each week until one is ultimately voted “The Voice.” The winner is awarded a recording contract, assuring a career in the entertainment business.

Why do I like the show so much? Much of my interest is clearly the level of talent. This makes for excellent performances, which translates into high-quality entertainment value; it’s a good use of my leisure time. I’ve seen quite a few performances that blew me away, so to speak. That’s impressive for a guy who has been a part-time working musician for much of his life.


Beyond the entertainment value, however, what makes the show impressive is the coaching. Each week, the four coaches work privately with each member of his or her team. During these working sessions they collaboratively decide what song the singer will perform. They then work on strategies that will help the singer take advantage of his or her vocal and performance strengths while minimizing weaknesses. Sometimes this means going into territory that is uncharted by the singer. This provides an element of risk. Some of the singers are visibly shaken by this; it is evident on their faces.

What comes across noticeably in the coaching sessions is the sincere level of interest the coach takes in his or her team members. Remember, the coach has an intense desire to have the winning team. The coach and the team members, therefore, share that goal and vision.

We viewers are allowed a glimpse of the coaching sessions as snippets of them are aired. We get to witness the human dynamics between teacher and student. In my opinion, there are lessons to be learned from these.

What is remarkable about watching the program is witnessing three aspects that I believe can be applied by managers and supervisors.


The growth

As a viewer, each week I get to witness the personal and professional growth of the surviving competitors. I’ve seen people dramatically develop their self-confidence on stage, gain confidence in their decisions about their craft, improve their performances, and take risks that paid big dividends. Almost instantly, team members become energized and their early successes feed more and more rapid growth and success with each succeeding week of competition.

To the point, last year’s winner was a 16-year-old girl who had never sung in front of an audience. She now is a confident performer and has a recording contract. She has launched a successful career as a country singer and has released her first album.

Management lessons to learn from this are:

·      People are energized when they are learning and growing. As a sales trainer and management mentor, I can attest to the fact that when people are growing they are always energized. There is something exciting about expanding one’s knowledge base and learning how to use that knowledge base to succeed. It would stand to reason that every manager should attempt to find ways to help his or her team members to gain new knowledge and grow.

·      People gain confidence when they see themselves grow. As people see positive changes in their personal or professional lives they gain confidence. That confidence is gained by recognizing that the decisions they are making are better and more productive than the decisions they once made. This increased confidence makes them more willing to make independent decisions and take prudent, calculated risks; a process some would call empowerment. Simplistically, success breeds success.


The relationship

Your team members must see you not only as knowledgeable and capable, but they also must know you sincerely care about them as individuals and are deeply committed to their personal and professional growth. The critical lesson for supervisors and business managers, especially those who are new to the management world, is:

·      When the person being coached truly believes his or her coach sincerely cares, he or she is more willing to submit to that person’s guidance and direction.


The change

Only one person can win the competition. Many of my favorite competitors have been voted off long before I thought they should be. Most are asked to comment on their experience on the program, what many call their journey. Many say it is the most significant thing that has ever happened to them. The life lesson to be learned from this is:

·      Managers can assist people to make permanent, positive changes in their life. Competitors often say that they will take with them the lessons learned from their coaches. This means they will use that knowledge in the future. Some say the experience has made a radical change in their life. Almost universally the singer will mention how the opportunity to be mentored by a knowledgeable and caring coach has been the greatest experience of his or her life. It is clear that the singer no longer will approach his or her craft the way he or she once did.

In my experience, this is the sustaining reason for staying in the management world. Watching someone grow personally and professionally under your guidance is the most rewarding part of the work. It is also a great reason to get out of bed each day and face the rigors and realities of the business world, which, admittedly, can be harsh at times.

Make no mistake, however. Taking on the responsibility of guiding someone’s career path and growth is an awesome one. It should never be taken lightly. On some occasions you will question your own motives and abilities. That is natural. My advice: Keep yourself learning and moving forward. That way you’ll have more to share.



Arthur De Gennaro is president of Arthur De Gennaro & Associates LLC, an ophthalmic practice management firm that specializes in optical dispensary issues. De Gennaro is the author of the book The Dispensing Ophthalmologist. He can be reached at 803/359-7887, arthur@adegennaro.com, or through the company’s Web site, www.adegennaro.com. He maintains a blog at www.adgablog.wordpress.com.


Editor’s Note: Watch for Arthur De Gennaro’s series outlining the third step-the eyewear demonstration-of a retail sale in an upcoming issue.


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