A few weeks have passed since my last post. I have a new role at work and it has been full on. Hugely challenging but exciting with it. I thought I would reflect on these first few weeks in this new leadership role. I can’t help making comparisons with my role as a coach/club leader.
Everyone expects it should be easier at work as people are in paid employment.Therefore, they ‘should’ do a good job while grassroots is voluntary and relies on goodwill. Yes, there are massive differences between the workplace and the sports field but there is much more in common. Of course at work, people say because you are the leader then you can just tell people what to do. If only it were that simple. In sport, we rely on this goodwill which is given for free. People are at the club coaching and helping because they want to. It is the ultimate in positive reinforcement where we are getting people to do things because they want to. In the workplace it may not be the same as people may be there because they have to (bills to pay, mouths to feed). Therefore we might see more negative reinforcement that drives a compliance culture where only the minimum will be done. The secret is moving from negative to positive reinforcement. This will not happen overnight and requires a skilled coach to move in this direction. We have all witnessed the ‘shouty’ coach who barks out orders. Yes, players will comply but will they move to the next level or will they just stay in a ‘compliant’ mode.
At work and on the field, your job as a coach and leader is to bring the best out in your people and it is your people who will deliver success on the pitch and in the workplace. I have found myself doing very similar things that work in both world’s:
- Create the right, positive environment through dialogue
- Set some expectations
- Measure what is happening in terms of behaviour
- Put some consequences in place to get the behaviour you want
- Put in shaping steps to get you to the behaviour you want
- Test for stimulus control
- Reinforce the things you want to see
- Provide constant feedback
The above is not exhaustive and you will adapt to each player/employee as you build rapport and understand their own drivers. The most important thing, in my opinion, is for a coach to be constantly learning on how to do it better. You have to read, you have to watch other good coaches and managers/leaders in action. I write copious amounts of notes and now have two journals. One for work and one for sport. I take notes on how people react to certain triggers so I know the next time how to do it better. I take notes of what I ask people to do and then measure if they do it. I am building up a bank of data to try and predict future behaviours. Your duty, as their coach is to pass this knowledge on but sprinkling your own experiences with the messages you are giving out. As a coach it feels simple but not easy.
At both places I am trying to build a high performing team around me. At work it is forming a management team who will lead the business and drive performance. At the club it is building a network of coaches who will concentrate on player and person development. In both instances, it takes time as trust is developed by both parties. Without this trust you can’t get to the next step.
As both my worlds collide, I remind myself that it is all a journey and that it is about enjoying that journey. After all, in all aspects of our life, is that not what it is all about?
Simple but not easy!