Up Your Game This Season: 7 Leadership Skills To Master As A Coach [Part 2 - Vision and Action]

written by Erica Quam

PART TWO: VISION AND ACTION

Vision and action is a leadership skill. Leaders set goals and work to achieve results. 

Most coaches are great at the vision part. 

You know where your team is going...or at least where you want them to go...or where you believe they CAN go.

You can have the best and most grandiose vision of what your team is capable of this season.

You can't go anywhere without the action.

If you aren't able to answer yes to the next three questions then this is where you can start to improve this skill.

1. Have you communicated your vision to your team?

Your athletes have a short attention span...and with as over-scheduled and distracted as they are...I'm sure you can sense it's getting shorter every day.

Plan to communicate your vision at least ten times before they even hear it.

They will roll their eyes.

They will think they've heard it before.

Be patient.

Keep repeating your vision.  Get creative in how you communicate it.  Make it fun!

By the fourth or fifth time your team hears it, it begins to seem real. Adjust your barometer from, "Do I really have to say this again?" to "I've said it six times, only four more to go."

2. Does your team share your vision?

The reality = everyone on your team may not share your vision. 

It's your responsibility as a leader to build trust, create buy-in, and inspire your team...so your vision becomes something THEY want to take action towards.

When your athletes understand your vision and want to be a part of it will act in a way that's consistent with your vision. 

Athletes who don't support it will stand out.

3. Does each person know their role?

Jim Collins wrote about how to "get the right people into the right seats" in his book, Good to Great. It's a business'y phrase that doesn't mean much to coaches unless correlate it to you.

Think about it this way:

Each athlete on your team has their own unique strengths.  They have a superpower - something that's their own unique ability....something they do better than anyone else.

When your players share your vision, and understand their strengths, then they know what to do to take action towards team goals.

Not every person is right for every role.

RIGHT PERSON / WRONG SEAT.

This is when you have an athlete aligned with your values but get placed into a role that takes him/her away from their strengths. 

For example, it could be the athlete who is all about relationships.

She does a lot of behind-the-scenes work to make sure everyone has what they need, are where they're supposed to be, and feel included. Then, she gets voted team captain. Instead of continuing to do what she's really great at, she totally adapts her behavior because she thinks that's what she's supposed to do as team captain.  

It's clear to everyone that when she forces herself to be vocal, she's more stressed, anxious, and defensive if anyone questions her. 

There's something to be said for getting people out of their comfort zone...and there are times when people make too big of a change, try to adjust to too many expectations. They can get pulled too away far away from that place where they can learn, expand, and thrive.

WRONG PERSON / RIGHT SEAT.

This is when you have someone who is really great at what s/he does, is talented and successful...yet s/he disrupts everyone else on the team because s/he doesn't share the same values.

There's nothing inherently wrong with this person.  It's fine to have other values.  It's just not the right fit for your team's culture.

In the short term, you might try to find a way to manage or ignore the situation.  In the long term, this person may suck the life out of you and the rest of your team.  

WRONG PERSON / WRONG SEAT

This one's more obvious.  It's clear this person needs to go.

You're going to get to make some pretty tough decisions in your role as a leader.  Having to ask someone to leave (or make that decision for them) may be one of the hardest and best things you'll ever do as a coach.

When you're clear on your vision you may discover how much forward progress your team makes towards your goals once that person is gone.

Feedback and Follow-up.

Coaches who stay stuck in a cycle of blaming & complaining, avoiding & criticizing won't ever lead as effectively as those who step up and take responsibility.

If you have an athlete who isn't on board with your vision or aligned with your values, your next two action steps are feedback and follow up.

Give your athletes feedback on what's working, what's not working, and what specifically needs to change so they have the opportunity to get back on board.

Let them know you'll follow up in 30 days - and make sure you do it. 

Talk to them about how they're doing and if you haven't seen improvement you can give them another chance. 

Feedback and followup.

Three strikes and they're out.

If you do a good job of clearly communicating your vision with feedback and followup, if your team is bought in and on board, then most outliers won't make it to the third strike. They usually leave all on their own.

What's one action you'll commit to take this season that will help you improve your vision and action? Share it here for some good mojo and accountability!