Lots of people in the college coaching world are talking about generational differences and how to “relate to Gen Z” players (and staff). We are telling coaches and leaders that they need to open up and be more vulnerable to those they lead. What does that mean?
I think we’re getting “opening up” wrong.
Teams need trust for sure, but this does not need to be personal–on either side. Coach, you can show “who you are” simply by sharing honestly what you believe in.
When you talk about what you believe in and why, when you clearly share the things that are foundational to you, you’re automatically being “authentic”. When you know, you know and when you share “who you are”, that’s who you are. That’s personal without being personal. It’s unlikely that everything you do is going to work well, every time, but everything you are, the be behind the do, is real and that matters for trust.
Some coaches seem to think that sharing values and asking questions, aside from the rhetorical, is a sign of weakness that could damage their coaching authority. This is a challenge, yet by not sharing we risk lack of understanding as well as lack of commitment.
Commitment to what? This is an important question.
There is no middle ground. Either you state your beliefs and talk–even to yourself–about why they are important or you keep operating in a veiled manner that keeps people guessing. Kids with options want to know you.
We define it, clarify it, discuss, debate, decide…then we do it. With all of our heart.
Consistentcy, love, enthusiasm all are a part of the recipe.
We play our game and let the other guy worry about themselves.
When you’re the little kid holding hands and jumping into the pool, you fully trust the other guy, you’re honest with your word. You jump.
But after that one time when the other guy doesn’t jump with you…when you feel laughed at, do you become the guy who doesn’t jump?
“I’ll trust them as soon as they prove their worth it”.
Will that work? How else to do that except to jump when you said you would? ‘Cause when you don’t jump, you’re the liar and the one not to be trusted.
What’s the downside to being in the pool on a hot day anyway? So what if you’re alone because your the only guy who jumps.
Coach, create a culture where everyone agrees that honesty and being true to their word is the thing–that jumping is only the mechanism.
Leadership done best is an ability to present a picture of a future that’s successful, exciting and compelling. When people not only trust a leader as a person but are inspired by their vision, things are more fun and the process moves along.
When “the future” seems so precarious this becomes even more challenging.
Many “leaders” can’t find their way to paint a picture of a future that’s compelling, or are even able to consider what might happen. This is when the real leaders become fewer in number and even more important.
Finding our way toward leading ourselves in this way is, as always, a great first step.
When you know what your now looks like and why, it’s way easier to know what to do.
What you did as a performer today is who you are as a performer, today.
Right now, as one who’s working to execute a program, project or skill at a certain level, you are the level you achieve.
It matters not how hard you have worked to this point, nor how much talent you have; you are what you’ve done.
So, make a plan for improving the skill and working the work and see what you can do the next time out.
I think that ID’ing and owning, defining and providing others clarity on one’s core values is really important. An organization can move forward, with its people on the same mission, when the central ideas are clear.
I don’t think “accountability” should be one of them.
Once your values and expected behaviors are articulated, then accountability comes into play.
Are you doing what you said you would?
That’s accountability – it’s an outcome, not a seed to be planted. It’s an expectation, but not a behavior in an of itself.
I’m all for planning. At times I feel a slave to my calendar. A slave because I’m constantly looking to see what’s coming up. Today, this week, next month…I think it makes me feel valuable to see that I’m busy.
I’m working on it.
I also preach planning. But, I’m not a big fan of creating a long-term vision for everything. Some big things need a long-term plan, and having far away goals and interim goals and keeping track of your progress is a good thing.
But, it seems that too often we don’t simply get to work.
Start doing something and see how it goes, what it leads you to next. If you plan to start, when do actually start?
Go. Then see what you learn and go some more.
Who’s listening to you? Do you have a place to vent that’s productive for you? What is productive, anyway?
I say go for it. Vent away!
While you’re there, listen for the undercurrents (or ask someone to listen to/for you) of what’s really going on. What does this rant say about what you value, what you really care about.
The clues are in there. Just like the world is asking us to slow down and listen to others, let’s practice intentionally listening to ourselves.
For over 30 years I’ve been coaching college athletes, and each of those years they spend some time near the end of the season writing evaluations. These can be simply checking of boxes, or that plus writing anonymous (usually) comments.
This is consistently the saddest day of my year.
Win or lose, a season is an incredible emotional investment for all. At the end, all coaches hope that players have had a “good experience”. We want them to have grown and learned how to play as a member of a team. We don’t always tell them that, however.
Players seem to have developed this sense that college coaches are there to serve their personal development first and foremost, just as their private and paid coaches have done for their youth career.
Of course they do!
This is the experience they’ve had in sports–most youth “showcase” teams are NOT there to be a great team, they are there to get kids opportunities after they leave that team. So, why do we expect them to change their perspective just because?
College coaches need to frame the experience that’s upcoming when they join a program. This should be done in the recruiting process, and made clear again and again.
It probably doesn’t include a coach offering non-stop individual feedback , so let’s be sure everyone is clear.
We should stop saying, “they should know how to put the team first,” when most kids have very little experience with this.
Recently I had a chat with a coach whose team was doing okay, but not great.
They talked about how the team was trying, how the kids had worked hard, how the team had some hardships over come in regard to injuries etc.
They talked about some things that had happened in the past and some things that they were doing now. A wide variety of thoughts were tossed out with a variety of levels of clarity.
As a coach of coaches I recognize words like those, and I really recognized the look in the eyes of this coach. They knew they were not telling the whole truth to themselves, nor to me.
They knew something was missing but didn’t really know it was them. Well, they knew..
The idea of taking the time to truly clarify the things that are centrally important to you is a task that is not actually that challenging. However it’s one that we don’t think to do and we don’t think we can do, and/or that it won’t make that big a difference.
Start by asking yourself what you believe in, what the central “you” is made of. With just those two questions you’ll start gaining ground.