Coach Them To Greatness
What does a leader look like and how profound is his impact on matters? Many folks will answer by calling out various titles such as: politicians, presidents, senators, and scientists, governors, military leaders, business leaders, and… successful athletic coaches.
Why are coaches included in this list of esteemed individuals? Because all good coaches are leaders and coaching effectiveness is maximized by understanding how to lead people to greatness beyond where they thought they could ever venture on their own.
In a way, the relationship between coaches and players is a consensual agreement or contract. Players will follow the coach’s directives, wishes or demands and in return they expect their reward, whether that is winning, playing time, positive reinforcement, skills improvement, increased self-esteem or some other benefit. With that in mind, just like selling a customer, a coach has the distinguished and profoundly important obligation to find out what each of the team members’ “wants and desires” are. Find these out early, and leading becomes easier and much more effective. I visited a store not long ago and asked several managers about their salespeople. The managers could rattle off numbers and stats but none of them could really tell me much of anything about the personal lives of their people because they never take the time to do one-on-ones and find out what truly drives these folks. Find out what their dreams are and you find the secret to their motivation.
The real leaders can and do effectively get their team members to believe in the ultimate team and individual goal fulfillments. The great coaches believe in the law of expectation, which simply stated says you most full-heartedly expect things to improve, must expect to win, must expect yourself to become better at what you do, must expect the right things to occur and so on. It is with the thoughts of expectation that we can actually attain greatness at anything.
When we look back on our lives growing up most of us can identify a few people who influenced and enriched our lives. Most often, that person was an athletic coach. Various reasons lead us to that conclusion; common goals – win, improve, help teammates become their best, feelings of good self-esteem (if you had the right coach), you left better than you came. These are a few of the good feelings we came away with and as a consequence we anchored the feeling that this coach was a leader. Mine was a baseball coach who continually told me I had more talent to give and after a while I began to believe him and then a strange thing happened; I became a darn good third baseman who rounded out his career batting .419. Sure there were days we had to receive a little discipline and maybe get a little chewing on, but this “leader” always left us with the good thoughts of expectation and that was, “Hey, next time you will get it right. Now get out there and give your best because you are a winner.” What thoughts of expectation are you leaving with your players?
Here are some simple playbook ideas for specific implications of what the coach, as a leader should be consistently applying on a daily basis:
Master and apply current knowledge
Be willing to learn and willing to take the time to understand correct mechanics, strategies, and the fundamental principles of the game (business). You better be getting trained along with them so you will know what they do.
Develop interpersonal skills
Develop interpersonal skills, especially communication skills. Have a sense of humor but scrap the sarcasm. Players need to feel that they can approach you, if they don’t feel that way problems can multiply.
Eliminate all dehumanizing language
Treat everyone with the dignity and respect that they deserve. Give positive reinforcement rather than negative feedback. Offer solutions when criticism is required and remember to leave them with an “up” statement like, “I know that’s not like you and I am certain that next time you will do it much better.”
Control your emotions
Athletes treat the coach as the role model and will emulate their behavior. If coaches are on the sidelines yelling at officials and throwing chairs, what message is that sending to the players? Watch your mouth because everyone else is.
Help your players set their own goals
Goals need to be established as a team and as an individual. Goals should be something that the individuals can actually achieve. Coaches are there to guide players in the goal setting process as well as the evaluation of the goals, but they are not there to tell the player what the goal is or what the goal should be.
Live in the present
Players don’t need to be consistently reminded how good your team was last year or in prior years. You may use the past as an example but don’t compare your players or team to prior years. Too many managers hang their hats on yesterday. Ok, that is past now let’s do it again but even better.
Provide opportunities for success
Provide good practices, time for game planning, sensible scheduling and a pleasant atmosphere. The administrative aspects of the job are just as important as any other aspect. Planning, preparation, training and budgeting are very important functions. A coach must be a leader, teacher, friend, mentor and an administrator all at once.
Every coach has the ability to lead but it takes work to become a good leader. By following and living by these guidelines, you will go a long way on your path to becoming a good leader. And maybe, just maybe you will be on someone’s roster of leaders who affected their life and made it better.
Chuck Barker is CEO of his two companies Impact Marketing & Consulting Group, LLC and Impact Summit, LLC both located in Virginia. His experience ranges from an executive with a Fortune 200 corporation, Harris Corp., to the automobile business where he has performed all management positions. His firms specialize in growing people and dealerships. He delivers Leading Edge Sales Training Programs, Customer Relationship Strategies, Management Leadership Workshop Programs and Dealer/Principal consulting assistance for the automobile industry. Chuck has recently published the first comprehensive ‘in-house’ sales training solution program for dealers entitled Dealership Success Guide.