3 actions that help coaches make better decisions

written by Erica Quam

Top leaders know they need a place to learn new things, get the support they need and have the ability to look at situations from a different perspective - to ensure they are making the best decisions for their organization.

The best leaders have learned the importance of lining up support. It's too hard to go it alone! Leaders make decisions that impact entire organizations from the bottom to the top: impacting the people who work for them to their families and kids at home. Some decisions can be really hard to make!

The same is true for coaches. Coaches need a space where they can share their unique experiences - honestly - knowing that what they say will be held in confidence.

1. FIND A MENTOR

As a coach, its valuable to talk to someone else about difficult decisions you need to make. It can be tempting to share everything with your partner at home and expect them to be the one to have the answers. Whether they agree or disagree with you - ask yourself...are they really the best one's to give you this advice? Sure - there are things you can and should share with them and include them in. But not everything!

Brené Brown teaches, 'it’s unfair to ask our partners to hold space for [our] thrashing about…especially when they are [often] part of the story.'

The same is true for colleagues. Whether you are a head coach or an assistant coach...it's valuable to get a perspective outside your staff to be able to get the clarity you need to make decisions, address concerns and function in alignment with your overall vision. 

Action: Form a relationship with a mentor who you trust and will keep your conversations private. 

2. WORK ON YOURSELF

I believe that the more you work on yourself the better you will be for yourself and others. Part of working on yourself includes both personal and professional development. 

Lots of coaches seek out professional development opportunities to get ideas on the x's and o's. Very few actually look inward - at what they may be able to do or change within their own sphere of influence - to become better at relationships. Coaching is all about relationships!

If you are someone who spends time looking around, judging, blaming or criticizing others it's definitely time to take a look in the mirror.

I teach coaches to see challenges and obstacles as opportunities for growth. If you have the same challenges that coming up or if difficult athletes keep finding their way into your program then it's time to figure out what you can change to deal with them more effectively. 

Action: Make personal development a priority. Hire a coach, see a counselor, or even start keeping a journal to begin to see trends in the challenges you are dealing with.

3. CREATE A SAFE CONTAINER

We can’t be brave in this world without at least one small safe space to work through our fears and falls.
— Brené Brown

There's value in having a place - and a space - where you can get out of your routine to get a different perspective. Part one is regularly committing to taking this time away. Part two is finding people who you can trust to be real and authentic with. Maybe you find a group of friends or colleagues who would take time away and hold a similar intention - of sharing experiences to gain perspective.

A coaching retreat is one example of a safe container. I just finished the first summit of the season and asked the coaches these two questions: 

WHY ARE YOU HERE? WHY DO YOU KEEP COMING BACK? 

  1. To listen 
  2. To learn valuable things to apply to my life 
  3. To get support
  4. To better myself as a coach and a person
  5. To get a new perspective on coaching
  6. To find my own voice as a coach
  7. To find clarity and peace in an environment where I feel safe, accepted, and never judged
  8. To connect with peers, friends and the powerful women in our profession
  9. To have a structure to process thoughts and feelings
  10. To release stresses and vent frustrations
  11. To laugh, cry and share the joys in sport and life
  12. To bring good ideas back to the team that address different issues
  13. To share my knowledge and perspective to others who are struggling
  14. To remind myself how valuable I am and the importance of my work
  15. To connect with strong women who truly get and understand how challenging a season can be
  16. To have checkpoints for my career and life and see what has changed since last time
  17. To get grounded and move forward with a lot more clarity

Over the past five years I’ve been surprised and heartened by the number of coaches I’ve met who either work closely with a therapist or a coach or are part of a small group of coaches who meet specifically to support each other as they work through the tough issues coaches face.

These 3 actions - I believe - are the most significant ways for coaches to be more confident, be more fulfilled and make a greater impact on the athletes they work with.

What do you do to stretch, grow, and get support as a coach? Share one thing in the comments below.