An exchange between Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson is the premise of this blog. How many times a day do you follow the same routine? Wake up, get coffee, go to the office (either home or physical office), drive home, eat dinner, go to bed, repeat the next day, changing it up somewhat on weekends.

 Holmes asks Watson how many steps lead up from the hall to the room. Even though this is a path Watson walks every day, probably more than once, he’s unable to answer the question. The distinction is that the steps are seen, but not observed. Think about your daily routines and ask yourself what am I missing. I’m often asked why my social media is populated with photos of the sky, ground, plants, and how these relate to coaching.

Elementary my dear friends: as a coach, observation is key to achieving success. Whether the session is in person, video, or call, it is critical to see/listen to what the client is saying and align that with their posture and verbal inflections. More is said nonverbally than verbally, and these wordless cues are key to a great coaching outcome.

 The logic of seeing versus observing is a key reason coaches provide such value. Most people have some level of self-awareness in areas where they could do better, but may not fully understand how small changes could increase productivity, time management, or balance in their life. In many instances, people think big and involved changes are the solution; however, the solution is often simple and small. One of the things I focus on as my client and I build our relationship is to try to adapt the solutions as close as possible to the current behaviors or processes. This way there is a smaller change or behavior to build – and success is more likely.

 How many photos of family/friends/pets do your co-workers have visible?

How many books are on your nightstand?

When you ask for something unscheduled, how many people does it impact?

How many radio stations preset in your car?

How many emails must be sent to receive the report you want?

What color are the eyes of your best friend?

 Becoming better at observing is a key aspect of great leadership. There are lots of training classes focusing on situational-awareness, self-awareness, and emotional intelligence; the piece that’s never really emphasized is being observant of your surroundings. What do you see every day, but don’t observe? As you build your observational skills, your awareness is sharpened, and you will grow as a leader.