Cindy Hinds: Leading Through Coaching at A.O. Smith

by Jamie Flinchbaugh on 10-26-23


In this episode of the “People Solve Problems” podcast, host Jamie Flinchbaugh sits down with guest, Cindy Hinds, the Global Director of Enterprise Excellence at A.O. Smith. Cindy brings with her a wealth of knowledge, boasting over 25 years of experience in implementing Lean principles within organizations. Their conversation explores the essence of coaching, emphasizing its transformative power in the business world.

Cindy believes in the continuous improvement and transformation that come with effective coaching. She shares her insights on the common misconceptions around the term ‘coaching.’ Many know the word but might not fully understand its depth and significance in an organizational context. Cindy highlights the importance of open-ended questioning in the coaching process, emphasizing that such questions empower individuals to find solutions and make decisions.

A recurring theme in their dialogue is the accessibility of coaching. Cindy advocates for making coaching available to all, irrespective of their position in an organization. She shares practical techniques, such as counting to ten silently before responding, ensuring that the individual being coached has ample space and time to process and reflect.

A key takeaway from their discussion is the distinction between coaching, mentoring, and instructing. While they may seem similar, each has its unique place and purpose. Cindy reveals that in her coaching sessions, she focuses on the person and not just the problem, creating an environment conducive to growth and learning.

Their conversation also touches on the challenges of implementing widespread coaching in large organizations. Cindy shares her multi-pronged approach, involving training key leaders, supervisory team members, and Continuous Improvement (CI) leaders to ensure the coaching ethos permeates throughout the organization.

Special thanks to Cindy for being such an insightful guest. Connect with Cindy on LinkedIn and learn more about A.O. Smith at