written by Erica Quam
I work with coaches to help you get a 360º view of what’s going on with yourself and with your team by looking back, looking at what’s going on now, and then looking ahead. Otherwise, it’s easy for you to be so driven and forward focused that you don’t stop long enough to learn from all of the experiences you’re having.
Coaching is all about experiential education - if you include the reflection piece.
Experience → Reflection → Conclusion → Experiment (Kolb Learning Cycle)
As a leader, there are specific leadership skills you can work on to improve how you’re leading your team. Reflect on how your athletes and staff are responding to your leadership style, and experiment by adapting your behavior for a more successful outcome.
Here are 7 skills I work with coaches on developing:
1. SELF AWARENESS
As a coach, you get ample opportunities to become more self aware.
Get to know your own thoughts, feelings, and wants. Understand your triggers. Know that there are times you need to take care of yourself before stepping in to manage others. (This can be as simple as pausing long enough to take one big deep breath!)
If you can tap into what’s going on for you internally before managing others, you’re more likely to respond instead of getting hooked and reactive.
Communication is a leadership skill that can be improved with your intention.
Listen - with an intent to understand.
Speak - with the intent of delivering a clear message that your athletes will be able to hear.
Try these two simple things for the next week.
Reflect on the conversations you’re having with individual athletes. Observe how you communicate during team meetings. Are you listening and trying to understand or just reacting. Do you know how your message is being received or are you just talking?
Conversations are always filtered through multiple lenses. Messages can get mixed, lost, and misunderstood. Great communicators are able to cut through the static and the noise and get to the point where everyone is on the same page.
3. TOLERANCE FOR ADVERSITY AND UNCERTAINTY
You’re constantly being watched by your athletes. They get to see you role model mistakes and learn grace through failure. Show them how you can maintain a sense of humor - even during times of stress.
If you’re able to model this, then you’re more likely to have a team of athletes who can keep things light and maintain perspective and focus when times are hard.
This skill leads to better results and teams that have a lot more fun!
4. JUDGEMENT AND DECISION-MAKING
As a coach, decisions are one of the hardest things you do. Decisions take a lot of energy. In the thick of the season, you may even experience decision-fatigue where you can’t even decide what you want to eat for dinner!
One of the skills you improve with experience is developing better judgement and decision-making.
There are different decision-making styles. Some situations will require you to make the call. Other times it’s important to involve your team - so they feel empowered. Teach them why they don’t get to be involved in every decision.
Debrief with your athletes and staff so you can all learn and grow together through the ups and downs of the season. Create an environment where you can all develop judgement and learn from the decisions you are making.
Observe the stages of team development [form-storm-norm- perform] and get good at recognizing where your team is at any moment - so you can have a better sense of what they need.
See trust as an essential ingredient to develop and maintain throughout the season. Understand there are different roles and ways athletes can contribute as part of the team.
Help your team create a common team language that your athletes know, understand, and utilize with each other. Point out strengths and ways each person can contribute to the team. Help your team to create a positive learning environment and then be there to hold them accountable when they veer off track.
6. VISION AND ACTION
Define what winning and success look like - so you know it when you see it. Set up clear outcomes and identify specific steps to get there. Acknowledge victories, insights, and ah ha's throughout the season. Use teachable moments to point out growth and progress.
Create a space for your team to have their own vision of success. Guide them to identify the steps they need to take to accomplish their goals. Regularly point out progress and improvements - no matter how small and have them do this for one another.
7. MANAGING CONFLICT
Observe behaviors to see what issues need to be addressed. Moderate emotional issues in an appropriate way by giving each side what they need. Diffuse strong emotions so both sides can share their viewpoint.
Help your team define actual issues when they come up...so both sides can work towards a solution. Teach conflict resolution strategies and create time to practice these before conflict actually comes up. Model how to moderate conflict so your athletes can learn and improve.
YOU ARE ON A PATH TOWARDS MASTERY
There's no arrival as a coach. You never actually get "there". The most valuable part about this career is who you become along the way.
Just like your athletes, you have skills you can work on to become better at what you do.
Being on a path towards mastery is much more powerful than one single result or achievement. Working towards mastery places you on path of ever evolving growth and expansion.