Coach The Team You Have – That’s Leadership

posted on: April 3, 2020
author: Brian Lomax

Man frustrated“I don’t understand why they can’t do this drill!”  That was what a successful college sports coach said to me a few years ago when she was talking about how her team was doing in practice.  I had an idea of what was happening with her and her team, but I was intrigued.  I probed for a bit more information.

“So what’s happening?  How is the drill breaking down?”

“They just can’t do it!  They panic, they make bad decisions, and the whole thing falls apart.  I don’t know what to do.”

“Hmmm, are you sure they know what they’re supposed to do in this drill?”

“They should know what to do!  They should be able to do this!”

“Why do you think they should be able to do it?  Because they obviously can’t.  Is it possible that they’re not as good as you think they are?”

“But they should be able to do it!  I’m so frustrated with them!”

Now I was positive I knew what was happening.  And it was a conversation that I have had with a number of coaches over the years.  And one thing all of those coaches had in common – they were all superstars in their athletic careers.  The best athletes don’t always make the best coaches because they often have difficulty explaining the skills that came so easily to them.

“So I think I know what you need to do.  You need to coach the team you have, and not the one you wish you had.  And the team you have, can’t do this drill.  So start there.”

She didn’t like that, but she got it and she agreed that she was going to have to change her approach with this group.

Leader and her team

Coach The Team You Have

Have you ever had a similar situation in your role as a coach or business leader?  Now that many of us are working from home, it’s possible that you’ve become frustrated or disappointed at times with your colleagues.  Perhaps you’re wondering why they can’t figure something out.

But let me ask you a question.  What’s your benchmark for expecting them to know how to do something?  Is it because you know how to do it?

If so, that’s not fair.  They aren’t you.  They don’t have the same work experience or life experience that you’ve had.  Expecting them to do what you can do may be unrealistic.  Actually, it probably is.  You’re a superstar.

This would be a good time to assess where your team is with respect to problem-solving skills and creativity.  Those are the skills we crave in our colleagues.

Help them develop those skills based on where each one of them is.  This will build their Work IQ.  Perhaps you have to teach them how to break a problem or situation into its component parts, and figure it out from there.  That investment in time will pay off.

At the same time, this will make you a better coach and leader.  It will force you to learn to explain skills that come so easily for you, but not so easily for others.

Now you’re serving your team.  You’re meeting them where they are.

Lead the team you have, not the one you wish you had.  Coach the team you have.  Your frustration levels will go down, and your team will become better and better.

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About the Author

Brian Lomax founded PerformanceXtra™ in 2009 with a mission of helping athletes achieve their goals and their top performances more consistently through a progression of mental skills that enables them to focus on what is truly important.

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