The Role of a Good Coach

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by Coach Rob Balfanz

Coaching a team or a small business is one of the most demanding and rewarding jobs you will ever attempt. Along the way, you will experience a wide range of emotions from exasperation to exhilaration, and everything in-between. Beyond the highs and lows from project to project and season to season, you will have the opportunity to play an influential role in the development of your team, both mentally, physically and in their “off the field” lives as well.

Focus on Improving the Team as a Whole

One of your most basic functions as a coach or a leader is to improve the skill level of your team. On the surface, this task is very straightforward. Your team will begin the season at a certain skill level, and under your guidance, their skill level should improve as the season progresses. If you simply set out to make each individual player better, you will find some success as a coach, but your team will be unlikely to reach its full potential.

At the beginning of the season, set goals and work towards achieving those goals as a group. You will win and lose as a team, so you should set goals for the entire team too. Teaching your team to give maximum effort and put the good of the group above their own individual desires are lessons that will serve them in their careers.

Coaching is More Than Just X’s and O’s

The role of a good coach is far more than simply organizing paperwork and managing projects. If physical skills and processes are the only things your team learn over the course of the season, then you will have missed a golden opportunity to truly make an impact in their lives.

Coaches fill a variety of roles in their players’ lives, acting as everything from mentor to role model. These roles carry significant responsibility, as your team will look to you for so much more than just business or skill instruction. Younger employees may look up to you as a parental figure, while older teammates will come to you for advice in various aspects of their lives. Most coaches or leaders cherish these roles and find them very rewarding.

Here are some tips on how to engage with your team outside of the X’s & O’s:

  • Build a want to have to company culture. Your team should want to work hard, they should want to exceed or crush your goals.
  • Be empathetic, listen to your team vs. always being the one talking. You’d be surprised what you learn, by simply sitting back and listening.
  • Provide other reasons to come to work, help them get involved in the community (through organizations like Habitat for Humanity, for example).
  • Ask them why they come to work, engage and understand their “why”.
  • Know your team and know your team’s team. Know the name of their husband or wife, son or daughter. Know what their hobbies are, what interests them outside of work.
  • Learn why they are doing the work they are doing today, and then build on that by helping them expand their skill set even further.

Develop Synergy Within Your Team

One of the hallmarks of a well-coached team or business is that the team’s performance is far greater than the sum of its parts. Fashioning a group of individuals with varying attributes and skill-levels into a cohesive unit that exceeds the sum of its parts is one of the most difficult tasks coaches face. Coaches that motivate their team to perform together as a cohesive unit, putting the good of the team above individual goals, will find success. Learning to excel as a member of a team is a lesson that serves employees well in so many facets of their lives, helping them to understand why their role is so important to the team.

Know Your Players

To be a good coach, you must understand how to manage the individuals on your team. Unsurprisingly, different players will respond differently to different coaching methods. In order to maximize the team’s performance, you must understand how to best motivate and train each individual teammate.

Additionally, many of your team will look to you as a mentor. With this role comes tremendous responsibility. Make sure you are guiding them down the appropriate path. Over the course of the year or season, your team will likely begin to take on your personality, so make sure you are conducting yourself in an honorable manner. Help your team understand their mission. Help the team better understand their core values and how those values can best guide the mission.

Teach Good Habits and Reinforce them Daily

Running a business is hard work. With childhood and adult obesity both rising at a steady clip, exercise and extracurricular activities are exactly the type of activity that many people need in their lives now more than ever. By teaching your team that exercise, rest and good nutrition can be fun and beneficial rather than just another chore, you can influence them to exercise regularly and live a healthy lifestyle for the rest of their lives. The discipline brought about by healthy living and rest will benefit your team for years to come. Remind them of their “why.”

The Mental Aspect of Work is Often Undervalued

In order to get the best performance out of your team both as individuals and as a member of the larger team, you cannot ignore the mental aspects. Many talented employees will fail to reach their potential due to mental obstacles, such as poor confidence or fear of failure. A good coach will build their employees up and instill confidence in them, helping them overcome any hurdles in front of them. A confident employee is far more likely to succeed. Confidence in business or in a competition quickly spreads to other aspects of employees’ lives, building up the self-esteem and self-worth with which many young people struggle. Remind them often just how much they are needed and how appreciated they are.

Remember That You Are Coaching a Business

Regardless of the business, or the level at which you are coaching, remember that it is still a business. By nature, work is hard, however, it should also be fun. Too many coaches lose sight of this simple fact in their pursuit of winning, production goals, or making money at all costs. You must find the appropriate balance between employee development, finding success and having fun. If the coach is not having fun, then the players likely will not be having fun either. As a coach, your attitude is contagious among your players. Make sure you are staying positive, and your team will too.

Be the Best Coach You Can Be

Good coaches take many different forms. A perfect coaching model simply does not exist. Just like many great employees come equipped with different sets of abilities and attributes, many great coaches have used very different styles and approaches to find equal measures of success. No coach is perfect, and each one will make many mistakes along the way. The key is to learn from your mistakes and continually strive to become the best coach that you can be. Never stop learning!

Trust the Process

  • The best coaches are the first ones on the job and the last off the job. Plan your jobs successfully, the team should know what the expectations are.
  • The best coaches are the first ones to team meetings, and they are the ones asking the team questions, and facilitating the dialogue. They challenge the team and ignite the passion.
  • A good coach sparks fire and confidence inside of each member of their team.
  • A good coach is motivational, is inspiring, is tough yet empathetic, and wants to be part of the process, not just the outcome, good or bad.
  • Throughout the process, a good coach recognizes who is worth being part of the outcome. This takes time, it takes effort, this takes grit.
  • A good coach creates leaders that are great husbands, wives, neighbors, volunteers, and then ultimately turn into great coaches themselves.
  • It all starts and ends with being a good coach and making a positive impact on your team, on and off the job.
  • A good coach can change a game, a GREAT coach can change a life!

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Topics: leadership