9 Ways to Lead by Coaching Fundamentals

During 12 years of coaching youth sports, I discovered that complexity was the enemy and it was almost always the most basic fundamentals that made the biggest difference. As a coach, manager, leader our inclination is so often just the opposite. We want to help by adding complexity. We design elaborate plays to surprise and confuse our opponents. We try to micromanage from the sidelines because we feel that our team will be more successful if they just execute on our wisdom. We throw too much information at our players during timeouts rather than giving them a couple of things on which to focus. I learned the hard way that many of my instincts as a coach were not always constructive and that I had to be deliberately simple in my approach to help my players be successful. The answer was almost always to focus on fundamentals.

When it comes to helping your team maximize their talents to achieve a result, keep it simple.

  1. Give them a framework. Let them execute.
  2. Recognize that your way isn’t the only way. Allow your team members to find their own path, make their own decisions.
  3. Remember that they WILL make mistakes. Yes, mistakes are disappointing but guess, what? You make them too. We all do. When the inevitable mistake happens, don’t blow a gasket. Accept it, correct it and move on.
  4. If you want to be trusted, you have to trust first.
  5. When preparing for anything, remember to practice the fundamentals.
  6. In the heat of the moment, fight the urge to micromanage. It fosters hesitation, encourages dependency and discourages contribution.
  7. Break the big challenges down to their smallest parts – start there.
  8. The best adjustments you can make are the ones you can articulate quickly and simply.
  9. No matter how much you want to win, remember that there is joy in the journey and don’t forget to savor the moments in between. You will experience success and failure while life continues to move on.

It is a huge challenge for someone that is used to playing the game, to transition to coaching the team. Action-oriented instincts on the court aren’t always conducive to effective leadership from the sidelines. This is why your best performer sometimes struggles when transitioning to leadership. Remember this for yourself as you look at your team and seek to inspire winning ways.

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