For many, we enter fields of endeavor, whether personal or professional, with high aspirations. Most never begin a project or game they don’t intend to complete, master or win. One of the keys to success, though, can often be linked back to the coaching one receives along the journey. For myself, I have been blessed to be a part of many winning organizations,with amazing coaches, through athletics in high school and at Lakeland College. But also more recently, in entrepreneurship with the LIFE business powered by LIFE training. Richard, my husband, and I were talking this evening about some areas where we want to grow and to help others. I was reminded of the times, not only when I was playing, but later as time passed, when I was coaching. It was a very difficult role for me for many reasons, but one was because I was used to being able to jump out on the floor, when I had the opportunity, and personally do something about what was going on. I received coaching and then would do my best to execute,my former opponents, teammates and coaches could argue the effectiveness of that execution, but the point remains that as a member of a team you can physically DO something to directly impact the outcome. As a coach, the role changes. And whether on the court, field, or mat it is no longer an option to go and do-now the game is to equip, guide and inspire. Coaching in the classroom and the field of business follow much the same principles.
The main idea we were discussing was that, as a basketball coach, while still playing a part on the team I never once considered stepping foot on the court during a game to make a free throw for a player whose shooting percentage was lower than mine. My role was to lead. I have often heard Orrin Woodward, an undeniably successful leader, author and life coach, say “Do only the things that only you can do.” I have heard others share, never do for someone what they can do for themselves.
For me, the difficulty to follow this advice is rooted in multiple areas. I was used to being a performer on the team directly and in a coaching capacity I had to work to equip other performers with skills I could demonstrate in front of them in practice and answer questions about, but it takes relinquishing control to allow them the opportunity to succeed or fail on their own merit. Not being in control can be hard. When you take this off the court where there is no referee there to stop you, it can be easier to jump in and do and maintain control rather than to grow oneself or develop the skill set to equip and inspire others. In the short-term, the job or task looks done, the team or organization may even experience success on the surface, you may be heralded or recognized for saving the day, but ultimately no one can move forward because still only one person is necessary and convinced they can complete the task and will always therefore be required to be there to do it. I look at players on business teams where the coach is always willing to step in and do what needs to be done or in classrooms where I saw the teacher do for a student in order to “help” them get a better grade and those players and students confidence and skill would never grow. There is something to be said for being in the trenches with your teams, but personal confidence, competency and knowledge that ones contribution is needed for the team to succeed grow when people are inspired to action and allowed to do the tasks, however poor the execution, with their coach alongside them to plan, course correct, encourage, and adjust over time.
There are many other factors that play into this and that are required to move through the 5 levels of leadership that Woodward and Chris Brady discuss in their book, Launching a Leadership Revolution, but if the coach is always there to do the things that he is “trying” to teach others to do, eventually there is no need for the others and no one for the aspiring coach to lead.
I checked out some of the commonalities found in the winningest coaches and wanted to share them-they have certainly cemented some of my thoughts and shed light on areas where I can improve. Check it out:
1. Passion for what you do
4. Focus on the players, on and off the field: encouraging them to strive to beat their personal best and finding unique and genuine ways to communicate that.
When I look at Coach Nikki Forster, Coach April Arvan, Coach Jane Bouche, and coaches today in my life: Steve and Jamie Leurquin and Dan and Lisa Hawkins I see all of these four of these traits represented at a high level. I am thankful for their example and excited to continue the journey of learning to do what they have achieved mastery in, coaching and leading.