Do you think a great coach can help take your performance to a different level? What qualities make a great coach? What qualities does a great coach need to have to help you achieve your mission? What might we learn from Coach Urban Meyer and The Ohio State Buckeyes’ performance this week?
First, congratulations to the Ohio State Buckeyes football program, the first undisputed NCAA National Champions. I spend half my time in Columbus and it’s a much happier place to do business when the Buckeyes are winning!
The first quality you should expect from a great coach is authenticity. Authenticity means what you see is what you get. Coach Meyer and his coaching team are very transparent in how they work with their teams. Great coaches understand how to get people to open up and trust them. They must be trustable. Every great coach I’ve ever met was authentic. When they make promises, you can take it to the bank.
The second quality you should expect from a great coach is always learning new ways to help you improve. Great coaches spend as much time developing themselves as they do you. Great coaching means they are always looking for ways to provide you with an edge in what you do. It could be doing new kinds of agility exercises that put you under pressure or doing an assessment that helps you better understand your strengths and capabilities.
The third quality you should expect from a great coach is they always get the best out of you. I remember watching Tiger Woods work with Butch Harmon during the early 2000s. He was always looking to help Tiger increase his skills. In golf, a coach spends many hours fine tuning your swing. It’s a game that’s won and lost by small improvements over several days of the tournament. In sports where you’re competing with your own best, you must be willing to work towards perfection on a regular basis.
When I ran the 400 meter in college, my coaches spent significant time working on my starts. Great coaches help build your confidence by making the extraordinary routine. To win more, you must become more. Watch top athletes and you see people working on incremental improvements every day.
The fourth quality you should expect from a great coach is a belief in you. My experience with great coaches is they believe in their people. They possess a high level of emotional intelligence and understanding. Watch a quarterback coach work with his star and you see an incredible amount of time spent helping the player develop confidence in himself.
The fifth quality you should expect from a great coach is seeing what’s there before their students. Great coaches help you expand your possibilities. I believe this is why Ohio State was able to survive the loss of their first two quarterbacks. Most people have unlimited possibilities, they just have to be reminded of this. This is why all great coaches help their people by working on the fundamentals. In business, I find 95% of the problems my clients work with me on are the fundamentals. Once a person knows the building blocks of their role, they can become extremely creative in how they execute their strategy.
The sixth quality you should expect from a great coach is holding you and themselves accountable to your mission. When things get tough, and they always do, great coaches remind you of the bigger picture or mission you wanted to accomplish at the beginning of the process. Great coaches can remind you of your expanding possibilities when everything else is going wrong. Great coaches remind you of the duty and responsibility you signed up for when you took on the mission.
I think an optimist is a coach who knows his people are prepared to do what they do best and let the execution determine the outcome. Great coaches help their people understand when they are ready so they can relax. In this week’s championship game you could see the difference between the two quarterbacks. When they were relaxed, both were unstoppable. When either strained to force something to happen, there were negative consequences.
The seventh quality you should expect from a great coach is helping you define you mission clearly. Great coaches help you make the best decision of what your available options are in that moment of time. Great coaches can help you make better decisions in real time by helping develop your decision making processes. Great athletes are always expanding the possibilities. Great coaches help make their players more self-aware.
Finally, the last quality you should expect from a great coach is giving you the space to navigate in your own strengths. The biggest challenge I found when I first started working with world class leaders was that I had to let them do what they did best at the right time. Great leaders are great coaches. They know they must allow others to play the game. Hard to do when you’re the former player, but critical if you hope to win the game. Great coaches know when to let go and let their people play the game. This especially true in succession planning in the corporate arena.
Would you like to know more about great coaching? You might enjoy our sister blog, written before the NCAA Championship Game. I share several things I learned from Coach Urban Meyer. For an interesting exercise, read the blog, “Can Coach Meyer Help You Become a Stronger Serving Leader?” then grab a bag of chips and review the game. I think you might have a new respect for a great coach.
See you next Monday, when we have our next article in our series on leading change. See you Monday!