Great coaches challenge us. They give us feedback, but don’t beat us down. They artfully find a strategic blend between constant encouragement and ongoing development. They help us embrace more of our true potential. The best coaches are the ones who acknowledge that we’ll stumble (or should I say fumble?) from time to time, but they look at everything as a learning and growing opportunity. They know there’s always something good that can come out of any scenario. They help us navigate through these moments, and make sure we’re reflecting on what’s happening, so we’re prepared for the best possible outcome the next time. They realize we’re not perfect, and they help make us better every day.
Coaching on or off the field is an investment in people, and it takes work. It’s a commitment to who we are and what we believe in, so we have to show what good looks like all the time. When we lead by example, do the right thing, and help our teams get through the weeds, we’re on the right track. If we’ve had experience with great coaches, mentors, or leaders before, it makes translating this approach to our own teams a little easier. I’m very fortunate to be able to say I’ve had some incredible coaches in my life at work, at school, on the court, and beyond.
If you’re committed to being a great coach, you’ll be there for your team members, so they don’t feel lost or out there on their own. The simplest thing to do is to be available to work through anything, to bounce ideas off each other, and to figure it out together. You probably won’t have all the perfect answers for your team, and that’s okay. You’re real and you’re human too, and no matter how long you’ve been in your role, there will be things that come up that you’ve never had to handle or think through before. Don’t sweat it. Be available, be approachable, listen, and be willing to pitch in no matter what.
A great coach makes it known that their team can call on them anytime, and they’ll work through a strategy together. When we stay aligned and think through difficult or complicated scenarios with a unified approach, the magic happens. We share ideas, discuss the tough stuff, and ask each other questions, so we get to the best possible solution as a team. There are no surprises, because we’re communicating regularly and working as a unit. Leadership is truly about great partnership. Coaches who partner with their players, who maybe even get into practice and do the workout with the team, will achieve trust, understanding, and respect. Their players invest in the team and commit every day to being their best because they feel valued, supported, and appreciated. It takes significant effort, but it builds a stronger future. When players know the coach has their back, they’re in. Is your team in?