(the next in a series of articles taken from my book, If Better is Possible)
One of the most important roles as a coach is to make yourself redundant. In fact it is the role of every parent as they help the growth of their children from the cradle to adulthood. And it should be the clear role of every manager and leader within organisations if they want the company to flourish.
What do I mean by redundancy?
Firstly, I would suggest that if you are applying for a management position within an organisation, perhaps you shouldn’t mention that you seek redundancy as a management strategy. At least wait till you have a feel for the company culture before you decide to espouse the concept.
The concept of redundancy means that you are no longer needed – no longer needed to coach an individual player, players or the team.
Underlying the concept of redundancy is making the player ‘their own best coach’.
This means that one of the principal roles of a coach is to get his/her players to know their games inside out – that is, how the individual gives him/herself the best chance of performing to their abilities. In order to achieve this result coaches must know their athletes very well. Coaches must know not only what the triggers are that allow peak performance, but also be able to read whether or not an athlete is totally in control of him/herself emotionally, so that they can initiate the triggers themselves.
A coach must be fully aware of the ‘script’ needed for each person to perform well. As the coach sees that an athlete knows their game inside out (i.e. they have become their own best coach) and therefore in total control of their ‘game’, then the coach can pull back from this individual and allow them to run their own preparation and game time.
It’s the same system with staff. The ideal is that the coach comes to the conclusion that everyone knows their games inside out, and so as boss, you can then pull back from being intimately involved.
There are two major reasons for adopting this approach.
First: by withdrawing from intimate involvement with each player or staff member the coach is able to become more strategic in analysis and planning – and become more able to direct his/ her energies into a range of tasks that have a long-term impact for the team, rather than just the immediate needs of each player.
Second: pulling back places full accountability and respons¬ibility for performance on the individual. They learn to make consistent high-quality decisions on the field based on a detailed and well-thought-through preparation specific to their game strategy. As a coach, this is the point you want to reach with your athletes, or staff members.
Of course the ideal situation rarely, if ever, arises. Members come and go from teams. They struggle with emotional control for different reasons at different times. Staff change, which can significantly alter the team dynamics. So the coach is constantly pulling back from individuals and then returning to assist them with the learning process of their game, followed by the expansion of their game.
But while the coach constantly seeks to make the player ‘their own best coach’, and therefore themselves redundant, the challenge is always to pull the group of individuals into a team.
Good coaching is all about moving between redundancy and dependency; between control and freedom; between education and self-directed learning.