Leading is much more than showing, or telling, what you know. It’s allowing others to learn, or to know what they can, at this moment.
Questions are among the most powerful tools in your kit. Authentic, “this is what I’m wondering” questions lead to amazing insights.
And, the asker is often not the primary, and certainly not the only recipient of knowledge.
In fact, questions almost never stand alone. Nor does the asker. Someone else almost always has a version of the same inquiry. By not asking out loud, opportunities are missed.
A leader among peers will find ways to encourage questions rather than stifle them with a barrage of answers.
Questions are unifying. In this unprecedented time, coaches can use strong questions to bring groups together when they can’t be together, to unify thru forcing a shared experience. Learning, together, is powerful.
Leadership can look like the solo, up front, figure, the one with the microphone, at the podium, all eyes on them. It can also look like living the values, being curious about the future and asking questions that others might be afraid to ask.
Rather than saying, “Google it,” ask, “what do you think?” and see how it goes.
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.
Most complexities are compiled of sets of simple things.
Simple. Not easy.
If your team knows where and who gets the ball, all your bases and covered and has an understanding of the need for backing up the current priorities, things will go well.
The doing is important, and the planning and understanding is critical, too.
A team that’s confident in their ball, base, backup plan–one that has run the drills over and over until the play is sharp and the communication is on point–is the one that will be able to deal with derailments with aplomb.
Being ready when things go wrong is a key to having them go right.
I started to write a post along with this picture a few months ago, in November. That was before COVID-19, before there was no softball and before people were afraid, really afraid, of leaving the house or being around others.
Sure, the behind-the-scenes post I had in mind was interesting to me and might have been of note to others, but it all seems so far away in time.
Lots has happened.
I know that world-changing events like the pandemic we find ourselves in don’t happen often and there is no way that it could be diminished if I tried, but as I look at this picture I know that it would have seemed like a long time ago no matter what.
Our childhood feels like yesterday and a hundred years ago at the same time. Time flies and it crawls…we should work hard to enjoy where we are.
Do your best, both on the scoreboard and on the other side.
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.
Most situations are not like arithmetic. Here there are right answers that can fairly easily be deduced. 2 + 3? Easy.
These types of problems are not interesting, and won’t stimulate you or your organization to move toward “better”.
It’s the interesting problems that move us along; it’s the noodling on things is really where the work gets done.
How often have you started to think or talk (usually we’re talking more than thinking) about one topic and come out the other side making moves about something completely different. It’s the process of consideration that makes the difference.
So, by taking problems away from people and offering easy solutions or giving away answers without asking for any work we’re doing a disservice to the world.
Ask hard questions of yourself and those around you and watch how the thinking makes progress.
When I was building a short repeat-after-me mantra for my own use, something to remind myself of the who/why/what of myself as a coach, one of the phrases I used was this:
Coaching Is A Partnership of Caring
Coaching is a sacred role. Coaches work to help others realize their possibility and help a group become something greater than the individuals within. It’s not a simple role.
Partnership is a greatly important word. We are partners with others in many ways. We form partnerships with one or multiple people in an effort to be great, to feel support and to create.
The final big word is the key. Caring, to me, means putting someone else, or some external goal or idea “first”. By advantaging the outside goal or the other person we truly help to make them better. We care, and that puts us on their side, even when the caring feels hard or challenging.
I’m proud to be in a partnership with a lot of people who call me Coach. It’s where the magic of this profession lies.
Build better partnerships. Care more or more intentionally, or be sure your partners, your players, know where you stand on this.