I had some of the followers of this blog ask my opinion on the recent news story of how Rutgers fired their basketball coach after a video tape of his practices was leaked to the media. Here is the clip in case you haven't seen it.
So the first response a coach may have (whether at the professional, collegiate, or even youth level) after seeing a story like this is, “Well, I may lose control occasionally, but at least I’m not like HIM.” It is easy to point the finger at someone else and forget to look in the mirror. I do think there is something we can learn from this situation.
For you coaches reading this blog, how do you coach? What is your coaching style and how do you motivate your players when you lose your cool? Perhaps a more important question is “Why do you coach?” I believe the answer to this question is the key to how coaches should coach and communicate. And I have seen this concept work for parents with their children as well.
Joe Ehrmann, retired NFL Defensive Lineman, wrote a book, which is one of my favorites, called InsideSideOut Coaching. Joe writes about the difference between communicating as a transactional coach, that is someone who will do or say to their team whatever it takes to win, versus a transformational coach, someone who is more interested in growing their players in addition to his or her performance. Ehrmann writes, “If interpersonal expectations, codes of conduct, and a dedication to transformation over transaction are communicated clearly, the positive impact on an athlete’s development not only can win a game, it can change a life.”
Our role as coaches is not just to build up the scoreboard, it is also to build up our players to be character filled leaders who will impact their environment. As a coach (or parent), if this is a major desire of yours, then the way you communicate to them will look very different. Screaming and yelling no longer works.
So take a moment and ask yourself this. In times of stress, what ways do I communicate with my athletes? And why do I communicate with them this way? Am I trying to squeeze out their talent at any cost or am I building them up as people through the unique arena of sports?
To fully impact our teams we must find ways to develop our athletes not just as players, but as people. Let us take this story not as an “At least I’m not like him” finger pointing and instead use it as an opportunity to seriously look at the way we coach.
Like it or not, we influence people on a daily basis, for better or for worse.
Which direction are you leading people today?