With the summer Olympics in London under way, the athletes and their physical feats are eating up the airwaves. But it’s not just the Olympians that bring the victories; it’s the coaches who helped get them there. The best athletes always have top coaches. One could argue that they earned each other. Here are six keys to coaching winning teams in athletics or business:
Every star needs a guide on the side
The phrase “it’s lonely at the top” exists because it is true. The stars are always on, but who’s got their back? Who picks them up on days when they’re down? It’s the coach. It’s the quiet cabinet of advisers who know the real deal and tell the truth others won’t share. Stars need those with whom they can be real because it’s impossible to get better until you can face the reality about where you are.
There is no “I” in team
“I can’t do it.” “I can’t keep this up.” Those internal voices can get loud until a coach says, “Yes, you can and here’s why.” An individual’s desire to keep going can be strong, but when someone else is watching, measuring, and monitoring their progress, it gets stronger. It’s easier and faster to reach a dream when there’s a team.
Defeat takes a back seat
The games in which we were defeated are typically remembered much longer than the victories. Coaches keep an eye on the long-term vision and goals, pushing defeat into the back seat. Coaches and trainers encourage the stars to let it go and move on, giving no time to dwelling on what went wrong. Instead, they use the loss to do better next time.
Glory’s not their story
When you see the team on the podium at the Olympics, the coaches are on the sidelines. They don’t get a medal — they get a hug, and for them that’s usually more important. A good coach is in it to see you win it and not for the sake of glory. They work to see someone else succeed.
They’ve been there and done that
The best coaches are not usually former winners, but those who tried and failed. The ones who knew no defeat often have no idea how they become great, but those who rise to the top by examining every step and stumble have a system for success they can teach. Much as star salespeople can make for miserable sales managers, the best coaches often come from the trenches but also know how to make people and teams better.
Those that play together stay together
Winning teams usually have a bond and camaraderie that less successful team don’t experience. There is an acceptance of each other, a valuing of each other’s contributions and a family feel to the team, which is led by the coach. This involves a tremendous amount of respect for others. The result: There is a comfort in each other’s company and a desire to spend time together even when work is not the focus. Spending time with the team in nonworking hours can enhance that bond and create even greater motivation, respect and approachability. Once a team bonds at that level, loyalty increases exponentially.
Monica Wofford, CSP, is a leadership-development expert who works with managers who’ve been promoted but not prepared. She is the author of “Contagious Leadership” and recent release “Make Difficult People Disappear.” Contact her at (866) 382-0121 or go to ContagiousCompanies.com.