Brian Souza is the New York Times bestselling author of The Weekly Coaching Conversation, as well as the critically acclaimed Become Who You Were Born To Be. Today, the founder and president of ProductivityDrivers, is a much sought after keynote speaker, and a highly acclaimed thought leader whose work has been featured in dozens of newspapers and magazines around the world including The European Business Review, Fast Company, and Success Magazine.
Indeed, Brian’s achievements and accolades are highly impressive and they become even more so when you realize that he juggles them while remaining a loyal husband to his childhood sweetheart, and doting father to his two young daughters. And that makes us love him all the more.
With The Weekly Coaching Conversation about to be rereleased in hard back, along with Brian launching a brand new website to complement and build on concepts addressed in the book, we figured the timing was perfect to sit down and catch up.
getAbstract: Your book was an instant New York Times bestseller, and is one of getAbstract’s top 10 most downloaded summaries. Why do you think it’s resonating so well with so many people around the world?
Brian Souza: I believe it’s because the message is new – it’s different – it’s easy to understand, simple to apply, and best of all, it works.
getAbstract: What do you see as the key differentiators?
Brian Souza: I think mainly because it’s fun to read. My goal wasn’t just to educate; I wanted to entertain. Secondly, it’s a quick read – you could easily complete it on a short, two hour flight. Plus it’s packed with tons of actionable takeaways.
getAbstract: What was your biggest discovery from your five years of research?
Brian Souza: I think one of our breakthrough findings was that when it comes down to the key distinction that separates world-class leaders of high-performance teams from most managers, we discovered that the fundamental difference primarily came down to their approach – they didn’t act like a manager, they acted like a coach, maintaining high levels of rapport with their team members while still consistently getting the most out of them.
getAbstract: Aside from having penned two best-selling books, you now go out and “coach” corporate managers, right?
Brian Souza: Correct. I am the president and founder of ProductivityDrivers, which is a corporate training company that offers a two-day program for managers, and a half-day program for their team members, so we can actually demonstrate how to facilitate the weekly coaching conversation.
getAbstract: What do you think separates your management training approach from the others out there that are competing for the market?
Brian Souza: Not too long ago, I met with David Covey, one of Stephen Covey’s sons. He’s a very sharp guy – HBS grad, and former co-COO of Franklin Covey for 12 years – who obviously literally grew up in the training industry. Anyway, we spent a day going through The Weekly Coaching Conversation – the book, the research and the actual training program – and at the end of our discussion, I plucked up the courage to ask, “So, what do you think?” He sat back, and there was this long, uncomfortable silence. He then turned to me and said, “Brian, I tell you what.” [He mentioned two very well-respected training companies in the industry that most people will have heard of.] He said, “You know what, I give their programs in general a B-plus and an A-minus, respectively. I give the weekly coaching conversation an A-plus.” I was floored. He then continued, “Look, it’s like my father, Stephen Covey, used to say. If you want to create incremental change, focus on the behavior. If you want to create quantum change, focus on the paradigm.” He said, “This book and this program, the weekly coaching conversation, is paradigm shifting.”
getAbstract: What was a surprising finding from your research?
Brian Souza: That one out of every four employees reported that they consistently performed at less than 50% of their potential. In other words, the workforce is saying that they have more to give. The fundamental question is what do you – the manager – have to do to get it out of them?
getAbstract: So tell me about the Weekly Coaching Conversation Framework, why it’s important, how can I implement it? How is it an ongoing process?
Brian Souza: The Weekly Coaching Conversation Framework has three different steps.
1. Change your approach – stop acting like a manager, and start acting like a coach.
2. Create an environment that’s conducive to coaching.
3. Transform the conversation.
getAbstract: And what differentiates a world-class coach from a manager?
Brian Souza: There’s two things: beliefs and behaviors.
getAbstract: What do you hope people will do differently as a result of reading your book?
Brian Souza: I hope that they’ll internalize and realize that they do have a distinctive management approach, and understand the impact of their current management approach is having on the dynamics, the relationship with their team members, and – ultimately – their team’s productivity. And if they want to take that next step, towards consistently getting the most out of their team, they have to change their approach.
getAbstract: How do you wake up every day and think, “What am I going to do differently today? How am I going to improve myself?”
Brian Souza: I think for me it boils down to just what’s my mission and what’s my personal purpose? Companies have mission statements; I have my own for my life. And I genuinely believe that I was put here to make a positive difference in people’s lives. It’s this strong belief that drives me.
getAbstract: But how do you manage that balance between being a good husband, a great father, and being fulfilled in your professional career?
Brian Souza: Wow. I don’t know. When I figure it out, I’ll let you know. But with that said, I think family is number one for me. Just last week, I got a text from my 8-year-old daughter, who plays soccer, saying, “Daddy, can you come home so I can kick the ball? I want to show you my left foot.” I’m just like, “Oh my gosh. On the one hand, I have all of this work that has to get done, and on the other hand, I have my daughter who wants to come and show off her left foot because she’s been practicing.” In the end, I thought “Look , in 10, 20, 30, 40 years down the road, what’s going to matter more? Is it this work?” And so I packed up and went home to watch her and practice soccer with her. The important stuff is going to get done. What’s really the important stuff? It’s that moment – that 45 minutes that I had with her to reinforce her. And having that moment with her was pretty special.