TregoED Blog

Six Lessons on Leadership from the Playing Field

Chances are that you, like me, have spent countless hours playing and/or observing youth sports.  Undoubtedly you have seen a wide range of coaching styles – and noticed their effect on outcomes on and off the field.  A lot of what is true for coaching pint-sized players can be applied not only to older players, but also to leaders within districts or organizations.  Successful coaches on and off the field, know the following:

Shame is not a motivator – while some coaches seem to think that yelling and public humiliation is the antidote to lackluster performance, it is not a long-term motivator.  It only builds resentment and fear – not true motivation.

Different players are motivated by different things – some players are motivated by individual achievement, others by public recognition, or by their love of the game.  Some players just want to be with their friends.  Coaches miss opportunities when they assume all players are motivated by the same things – or by the same things they are.

Team climate matters – creating a positive team climate may not be why someone becomes a coach – but the great ones know how to do this. They recognize that a coach sends powerful signals all the time about what they value and expect – and what they will and won’t tolerate.  When persistent interpersonal problems or a negative dynamic is not addressed, it brings everyone (and their performance) down.  A positive team climate lifts all to be better together than any individual can be by themselves.

Individuals are so much more than their stats – Great coaches never forget they are coaching people – not just players. Each individual has interests and skills that extend beyond the playing field.  People respond to being seen as a whole person – not just for their utility or batting average, goal count or field goal percentage.

People are a work in progress- what we see today may not be the same tomorrow.  Great coaches help people grow into better players – and people. But ultimately we cannot force or control growth and success – we can only create conditions that allow them to happen.

This is by no means a complete list – but it provides some things to think about. What lessons from the playing field do you incorporate into your leadership life?