When I stepped inside Cressey Sports Performance, in the summer of 2013 for my internship, I remember the chills that ran down my spine. The quotes of inspiration on the wall brought me back to the leadership traits and principles embedded in me as a young recruit. Over the past three years I have noticed that successful coaches possess leadership traits that make them the best at what they do. Here are some of the 10 leadership principles I have found great coaches display:
Be technically and tactically proficient: Successful coaches didn’t just start out great. They had to work their ass off in order to demonstrate a high level of competency in their field. Great coaches are able to walk the walk and demonstrate high levels of proficiency because they put in the time and effort to get there. High levels of proficiency will earn you the respect of not only your peers but also those you come across each day.
- Know yourself and seek self-improvement: The old saying goes “ you are only as strong as your weakest link”, and having a clear picture of where you stand as an overall person will then help you determine a best course of action to seek improvement? Not only does knowing your weaknesses make you stronger, you develop mental fortitude to adapt to tough scenarios when they arise unexpectedly. Great coaches are always seeking out ways to improve. I’ve watched the greatest hire coaches for their own programs, attend multiple seminars in a year, and continue to seek growth wherever the opportunity has presented itself, and that is a reason why the greats continue to rise.
- Know your team and look out for their welfare: When you are in a position of leadership you should know your team members and how they react to different scenarios. In the Marine Corps, this type of knowledge saves countless lives. In the real world, it will allow you to effectively place your team where needed in order to optimize output.
- Keep your team informed: An informed team performs better and can learn to function without everyday supervision. If you provide clear and concise instructions to your team, it inspires initiative. At Cressey Sports Performance we have weekly staff meetings, a monthly coaching meeting, and regular in services to bounce ideas and inspire within. This allows the team to stay sharp, and keep everyone ahead of the game all around.
- Set The Example: This should go without saying, but if you want to be the best, you have to set the standard high. Operating on set of high vales allows you to rightfully demand the same of those around you. Great coaches understand what it is like to work long days, put in years of hard work, and have worked their way to the top. They continue to set an example for not only the athletes in front of them everyday, but also the rest of the fitness industry.
- Ensure the task is understood, supervised and accomplished: Before you can coach anyone, you need to make sure you communicate clearly of what is expected. While there are many different ways to coach a person, giving time for appropriate questions and feedback will ensure each task is understood. If you feel as if the person you are working with can demonstrate the task, check progress periodically to ensure the task is accomplished. While CSP has a system in place, it allows for creativity and uniqueness in its’ coaching model that allows the mission of CSP to be distributed. Great coaches know how to communicate so that the end result is the same no matter the challenge.
- Train your team as one: Anything you do should be communicated with intent and purpose. This will allow those you work with to understand the importance of teamwork and realism. Teach your team to play and operate as a team, and be sure to communicate roles of each member so your team can forge a solid bond. In doing so, your team will begin to operate productively and efficiently. CSP allows coaches to build as a team and as an individual, which helps the entire industry grow.
- Make sound and timely decisions: To be a great coach, you must learn to make a decision on the spot. There is no room for reluctance if you want to be great! Our field is full of on the spot corrections and adaptations, and great coaches know how to make sound decisions and learn from mistakes. Even if you do make mistakes, people around you will respect a leader who knows how to make decisions rather than hesitate. Over the past few years I have learned that even the best do not know everything and make mistakes all the time. Yet, while they make mistakes they display the upmost confidence in what they do and do not look back. Confidence and decisiveness makes a great coach.
- Develop a sense of responsibility in your subordinates: Show those around you that you are truly interested in their welfare by allowing them to develop as a person without you. Teaching someone a skill that they can take with them for a lifetime promotes mutual trust and confidence between the coach, client, and or team. The best coaches instill a sense of responsibilities in the athletes they coach and in their team members around them.
- Seek responsibility and take action: You must learn to get better everyday! Actively seek of challenges for professional development. By learning how to seek responsibility it also means that you are accountable for your actions. A great coach understands that they are ultimately responsible for what their team is great at and what their team is weak at. I’ve watched the best coaches continue to seek out opportunities to better themselves in any way possible, which is one of the many reasons they are on top. No matter what, continue to seek responsibility and you will grow.
I hope some of these principles will allow you to become a better coach and person. The skills you learn now will stay with you for a life time and only you can make a difference!