UHS COACH NYE TALKS LEADERSHIP-WHAT’S IT TAKE?
I was asked this question the other day at the rink, ‘As a head coach, what does it take to be a leader?’ I had to step back a minute to think about it. To think of the great coaches and players of the past and take a look inside them to identify what was their make-up, what was that outstanding characteristic that they had that made them a ultimate leader!
It was once said by David Loye in his book ‘The Leadership Passion’ - ‘This passion is best stated as a matter of caring and valuing. It is further characterized by its consistency; it does not erratically come and go…It is also shaped by tender-as well as tough-mindedness.’ Pretty deep right! But pretty right on as well!
Here’s a ‘no-brainer’ that a coach must always remember: leaders affect the behaviour of the would-be/should-be followers. In other words, the players follow the coach’s lead! If the leadership is misguided, the ‘followers’ will be lost in a lot of ways. Or they choose not to follow.
You see, athletes not only need effective leadership but they desire it. Our young folks these days want consistent parameters, direction, order, structure, organization and discipline. They need it whether they know it or not. It allows them to feel more secured and that in turn makes them feel more confident.
As a leader you have to be sure you are clear on what you want from the team of players, what you expect from them as a team and as individuals and in turn the player must know his role.
You may have the ability to handle authority well but do you know how to handle/manage the people? I have known coaches and managers who can run an excellent bench or practice but when it came to managing the players…well that was another story.
The leader who knows how to manage people must first know how to manage his power (and himself, of course). The position of leader doesn’t mean you have a place of dictatorship but a place where you can lead to a common goal – a goal established by the leader. This becomes the organizational/team credo. ”What we stand for” is how I put it to the players. ”What we want and how we go about pursuing it”.
When a coach puts himself in the role of ‘power’ he puts his credibility on the line. Basically you are saying, ”This is what I know is right; follow it”. If players know or discover the coach is wrong or condradicts himself, that power is diminished, eroded and/or lost forever. You have to let your players know your fallibility and that you recognize the difference between being g-o-o-d and being G-o-d. I have shown my players this logical process; Major Premise; All humans are capable of making mistakes. Minor Premise; I’m a human. Conclusion; Therefore, I’m capable of making a mistake. Learn from your mistakes I always say to my players and ”Think before you speak”. Prepare and speak with Intelligence and they will follow.
Only a coach who has faith in himself will have faith in his players. You must have faith in your philosophy of leadership, but be pragmatic.
You may stand firm with certain things you want done and beleive in but those things aren’t working at that certain time then you must be ‘flexible’ in your process. Your players will see this and adjust but they will also see that your philososphy hasn’t changed just the game plan for the this time around. You see habit creates comfort. Familiar and time-tested coaching approaches provide mental security for players. And for coaches. You all would love to coach against someone who doesn’t adjust or change, wouldn’t we. Don’t get to comfortable with one approach or routine. If something isn’t working, try something else. Change can be uncomfortable but it can also be necessary. It can be hard on some players but those players can adapt as well as long as you speak to them and show them the reasons for the change.
Many coaches do not strike a balance-or seek it. You can’t be one thing and decide on another to your players, they will only get confused or ”tune you out”. You cannot abuse your power either. Don’t be overbearing, oppressive, vulgar and mean-spirited, this leads to going to one extreme that most can’t tolerate. Then again going to the other extreme such as being the coach who is self-identified Mr. Nice Guy, every players buddy in every way will lead to lack of trust from your players. He is permissive, non confrontational and indiscriminately accepting. He has forfeits his position on power. But balance does not become the midpoint between these two extremes. You have to seek it out; you will have to continue to learn your ‘craft’. In coaching, the greater need must be accommodated. We aren’t speaking about the coaches emotional need but rather the situational need, as assessed intelligently and judiciously by the coach, who ”strikes the balance” in order to resolve the issues and situations as appropriately as possible.
A great leader/coach should strike the balance between the effective leaders. They should be strong without being insensitive; compassionate without being weak.
Try looking at it this way as one great coach told me;
- Power without insolence
- Discipline without humiliation
- Authority without arbitrariness
- Confrontation without abuse
- Consistency without inflexibility
Through working at being a good leader and being attentive to your surroundings and players you strike the right balance that goes beyond the positional of power. You develop ” A Touch”.
Become a Great Leader but most importantly ”Become the Best you can Be”.
Until next time.
See you after the game,