Choosing a Coach to Unlock Your Leadership Potential

Date: Jan 18 2019

Austin McDonald, President & Chief Operating Officer, McDonald Development Company

Engaging a coach can be an effective way to develop your leadership skills, engage more effectively with your teams, and accelerate your career development. FOX recently sat down with Austin McDonald, President and COO of McDonald Development Company, to discuss how coaching can help you unlock your leadership potential, whether it is through peer coaching or working with a professional coach.

FOX: Why is leadership coaching important?

Austin: Coaching provides an opportunity to discuss various topics in a safe and neutral setting where you can receive honest and rigorous feedback from someone you trust who can also hold you accountable. It helps you to rethink your options, identify your own your strengths and most importantly manage or overcome your weaknesses. I believe this greater self-awareness helps prepare me to be a more effective leader.

FOX: Why should a family member, particularly someone who may be in a position to one day assume a leadership role, engage a coach?

Austin: As a leader you are often required to ask people to do difficult tasks, so you need to be able to reciprocate and be flexible. Coaching can be helpful in developing four distinct areas:

  1. Self-awareness – able to really be aware of  your own emotions and manage them effectively
  2. Empathy – able to deeply empathize with others’ perspectives, feelings and needs
  3. Framing – able to see all sides of an issue or problem in terms of not only my own concerns but also how it affects everyone involved
  4. Innovation – able to look at an issue or a problem and figure out how to transform it into a positive outcome

Ultimately, you have the answers–not the coach. You need to be prepared for your meetings and accountable for defining success and taking the discussion where you want it to go. That said, an effective coach should provide a space for you to feel heard, help you reframe your perspective, challenge you, and help come up with more effective attitudes, choices, or actions.


FOX: Building on that last point, what are the key qualities of a good coach?

Austin: You can often gauge the quality of a coach by the questions that are asked. My own coach posed some of the following questions to me:

  • What are our goals?
  • What is the biggest change you'd like to make in your life?
  • What is the first thing we should work on together?
  • How do you define success for yourself at this stage of your life?
  • What are the three biggest challenges you are facing right now in your business and life?

FOX: How do you choose the right coach?

Austin: The most important thing about choosing a coach is making sure that it is someone who you feel comfortable with, can engage with easily, and trust.  A good coach should be able to clearly state what you should expect from the relationship, help guide the duration of the relationship, and set aside time for check-in reviews on an ongoing basis.  It’s also okay to engage with multiple coaches if you find the relationship has run its course or you are not making progress.

Ultimately, if you are considering a coach it’s likely that you are looking to be more effective, not just efficient, as a leader. Find someone who will challenge you in a healthy manner and provide the platform for you to realize your potential.



As president and chief operating officer for McDonald Development Company, Austin McDonald oversees daily activities related to financing, leasing, asset management, property management, and accounting. He maintains relationships with McDonald Development Company’s investors and a broad range of financial institutions and is responsible for the company’s development activities in the State of Florida. Mr. McDonald began his career at Carter and Associates, a full service regional real estate firm based in Atlanta where he coordinated development proforma analysis, property valuations, acquisition and dispositions, financing packages, and lease analysis.