The Leadership Query

Posted: February 9, 2011 in Coaching Philosophy, Psychology, Team Management
Tags: , ,

Am I a bad leader?  Or a leader at all for that matter?  How do I answer these questions and grow as a person?  Are people born with it, or can we develop ourselves into leaders? 

Ultimately my personal philosophy in coaching is that the world will rise and fall on leadership, and my team will rise and fall on MY leadership.  I thought coaching was a teaching profession, but as I’ve grown and learned from experience the more and more I believe that coaching (and teaching for that matter) is a leadership profession. 

It seems that there are those who do, and those who don’t.  Those who don’t say that leadership seems to be something people are born with and it’s just not in them to be a great leader of people.  Than there are those who do and they will tell anyone that leadership is something that is developed through hard work and lots of dedication and growth.

What is leadership? According to John Maxwell “…leadership is influence – nothing more, nothing less.”  I like this definition because it’s very frank and to the point.  Leadership, good or bad, is simply influencing people in a certain direction.  Hopefully I’m on a path of positive leadership development, but ultimately we want to influence people to move in a specific direction.  If leadership is influence than it seems like there must be a certain skill set that I can develop to become better influencers of people.

It all starts with vision.  Hyrum Smith once said that “Leaders conduct planned conflict against the status quo.”  Leaders have a deep desire to see something change!  I want my soccer players to grow as young men and be better people and athletes when they graduate from our program.  I’m not satisfied with where we are in our present state; as a soccer team and as a community.

But it can’t just be about having a vision.  It starts with a desire to see a dream become reality, but then we have to have the character, relationships, and work ethic to make it happen.  According to Woodward and Brady these are the three areas that we have to continually be evaluating ourselves to monitor personal growth.  Am I a person of character, integrity courage, and consistency that warrants the trust of people to follow me?  Do I have the relational skills to encourage, instruct, and teach others?  Will I have the work ethic, perseverance, and autonomy to get things done and create results?

We need to be constantly evaluating ourselves and establishing a plan of action to grow ourselves as leaders.  If I’m deficient in one of these areas I need to focus on developing in that are so my scope of influence grows.

This is an area that I feel is hugely underrated by coaches.  We all call ourselves leaders, and we all recognize that there is a larger and larger need for true leadership, but none of us see ourselves as the problem.  A study was conducted by George Barna that surveyed managers and executives in the USA.  Two thirds stated that there was a management crisis in our country.  Later in the same survey the participants were asked if they were part of the crisis as a defective leader, and a majority of the respondents said “no,” they were not part of the problem. 

Stephen Covey states that teams will only go as far as the abilities, character, and drive of the leader.  He refers to this as the “ceiling principle.”  If we want our players to be better people of integrity and character in showing up for practice and how they treat officials and one another maybe we need to look at where we’ve set the ceiling as coaches?  I’m always on my athletes to take the initiative and responsibility to workout during the summer to prepare for the season.  How much time do we take as coaches to “workout” and develop our leadership skill set and prepare ourselves to be better coaches and influencers?  The challenge is to take this to heart and put the time in to be a better coach for our players and our clubs.

  1. newbon99 says:

    Great article. Gareth Jones says being a leader is being yourself but with more skill. It kind of compliments what you say……anyone in leadership needs to be willing to evaluate themselves and decide what is it about “me” that makes me a leader but more importantly what aspect of me do I need to improve to be a better leader.

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