Everyone will find themselves in the role of coach many times over in their lives, whether they choose to or not.
In order to be better equipped to handle these moments, there are three key principles that will help a person in this role.
In this article I discuss the first two of these.
Here is the first key principle: Know the whole person
To be a coach one must seek to build relationships with his or her charges. To do this most effectively a coach must seek to know the whole person, not just the athlete, the student, the staffer or the Sunday churchgoer. You need to ask yourself, ‘Who is this person? What makes them tick? What and who are important in their lives? What goals are they striving for? How can I best help them?’
Everyone is different, and as coaches we need to invest time in getting to know all our ‘flock’ as best we can – and as much as the individual wants to let the coach into their life. I have found that when I am most satisfied with what I am doing as a coach, I am putting in time with all those around me. I feel I am ‘in touch’ with my players and staff.
As a consequence, I believe I am in a position to best help them should it be required. Isn’t this the same as parenting? Staying ‘in touch’ with your children, and they with you. It means the relationship is strong, and they know you are ready, willing and able to help when required.
I believe business managers today don’t invest sufficient time in their greatest asset and resource – their people. We are all too busy, caught up in self-directed needs, communicating through impersonal technologies and using surrogate means to superficially deal with a world of self-made complexity.
As with any relationship, the longer it lasts the more change that occurs in the person concerned. And so the coach needs to recognise these changes and be prepared to make him or herself increasingly redundant. I will discuss this topic in future articles.
Here is the second key principle: Create an environment of personal growth where the coach becomes increasingly redundant
The coach needs to keep pulling back, no longer being the directive guide, but becoming more of a safety net, and allowing the individual/athlete/child to grow. This may mean they will fall down many times, but rather than rushing to pick them up, the coach assesses their ability to pick themselves up, get back on the bike again and continue to grow.
There is no science to this process but it does stem from the relationship the coach has with the person. Knowing the individual makes a big difference in providing the best learning environment and the best way to manage redundancy.
As you can see I have made an assumption in this relationship, and that is that the individual wants to grow as a person. I believe this is true of all human beings. However, for a number of reasons, mainly one’s environment, childhood and adolescent experiences, the desire to be better than you were yesterday is sometimes hidden. For such individuals some specialist help may need to be added to their support network.
Similarly, every coach should want his/her athlete to improve and grow. It doesn’t matter what level the athlete is at, once the athlete, coach or both decide there is no room for getting better, it is time to hang the boots up and retire.