Who’s your “guy in the chair”?

By: Adam G Fleming in coaching, 3 years ago

I just read a blog written by some leadership guy talking about 15 leadership lessons in “Spiderman: Homecoming”. I have a fourteen year old son who LOVES Marvel movies, so I’ve seen this one twice. It’s good enough to watch again.

One of the other blogger’s points was that “Everyone needs a coach”, a sentiment with which I completely agree, but the blogger misidentified the character Tony Stark as the coach for Peter Parker. This makes me wonder if the blogger either didn’t watch the movie very carefully or doesn’t really understand what a coach’s true function is. Either way, it’s an interesting topic and a notion worth correcting. I can discuss it without giving you any spoilers, if you haven’t seen this super fun superhero movie yet.

Peter Parker (Spiderman) has a good friend, Ned. They go to high school together, and when Ned discovers that Peter is the Spiderman, he asks Peter if he can be Peter’s “guy in a chair.” He reminds Peter that every super hero has a guy in a chair. He’s talking about outside perspective, someone who is tracking with you closely, is paying attention to your progress, and can provide resources right when you need them.

The other blogger mentioned Tony Stark as Peter’s coach. Tony is Peter’s hero: he runs the Avengers, a group of heroes Peter emulates. Tony does play a mentoring role: he advises Peter on his career trajectory, and gives Peter some significant assistance that Ned could never give. But while Stark does track Peter’s career from afar, he isn’t really a coach, because he doesn’t take a peer position, and he’s never Peter’s guy in a chair. Stark is interested in Spiderman’s development, the same way a Major League baseball manager would be interested in the development of a Class A Minor League player. Watching from a distance, but not really coaching on a daily basis.

Clearly, Peter needs both of these relationships. But from the definitions of mentoring and coaching, it’s more accurate to say that Ned plays a coaching role, while Stark plays a mentoring role.

When you think about hiring a coach, you may have industry leaders you think would be great for you, famous people, your version of Tony Stark. And it’s true, you should do what you can to cultivate some relationships like this. There will be moments where some sponsorship from those kinds of people can be a real boost. But the reality is that they’re often too busy to really walk alongside you on a weekly basis. They may be prohibitively expensive. They may not have the same training as the guy in a chair, either. Usually, they have a different skill set. Getting someone who is really good at being your guy in the chair is critical to your progress and improvement.

Here at Exoteric we have a lot of people in a chair. We’re ready to celebrate the super hero inside you!

Need a guy in a chair? Check out my profile. https://exotericliving.com/expert-profile/1031/

If I can’t help you, I’ll help you find someone who can. If you are a friendly neighborhood superhero, you definitely need a guy in a chair.

User Comments

7 Replies