Chris Weinberg | Crain's Nashville

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

Chris Weinberg


For a little more than 16 years, Well Coached CEO Chris Weinberg has assisted businesses small and large with his expertise in coaching and consulting. Weinberg credits his successes to the ability to keep a company's original culture and entrepreneurial spirit intact while also providing balance and structure. Well Coached has been a "business co-pilot" for companies like Parking Management Company and Feltus Hawkins Design. 

The Mistake:

I'm a pretty driven fellow, and from early on I knew I wanted to sit in the boss's chair. I would do anything I could to get into a leadership position. I went to college and got lucky and got into corporate restaurant management. I knew I wanted to be the boss, so I became a voracious student of the game.

I would read and read about how to be the best manager I could be, and would immediately try to implement (principles) without any regard for how people felt or who was on the team. I would just go do it. That was a mistake. I would just read and implement at a breakneck pace. And sometimes there would be tremendous backlash, because when you're moving at that kind of a pace, you may look around and realize there are no team members left around you.

I can remember early on in my career, when I was thinking I was doing really well, I was told by a superior that I really respected that I was "uncoachable." That hit me like a ton of bricks. That's ironic, because today that's exactly what I do for a living.

My natural style was to expect people to read my mind, to not give clear direction. I thought I would be able to say things once or twice, or give suggestions in general, and expect results. That works for a certain mindset. But I can tell you that this happens a lot in leadership, where I would create what I would think was a clear expectation. That read-my-mind mentality was problematic early on.

 What I have learned is that you've got to meet people where they are.

The Lesson:

What I have learned is that you've got to meet people where they are. Folks have different styles of learning. Where I grew up, I was taught to treat everybody the same – which is ridiculous, because everyone has something different that makes them tick. I got turned on to a behavioral assessment called the DiSC Profile that helps people understand what drives them.

I have learned to take this profile and layer it on top of best management practices. To create great leaders, you need situational leadership where leaders understand where the team is, and then apply the right match to get to the next level.

What we do with every single employee today is, we start with the DiSC Profile assessment and I give them mine. I get a quick snapshot of what drives them and they can see what drives me, so that right away we get to know each other. Right away we get some of that weird personality stuff out of the way, and we can get down to the focus of the mission and the work. I do believe in the structure of human relationships.

Pictured: Chris Weinberg | Photo courtesy of Chris Weinberg.

Follow Chris Weinberg on Twitter at @WellCoached_

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