When considering the topic of leadership, I often find it helpful to look outside my own realm of influence, and consider the impact of leadership in other disciplines. As I am currently in the stage of life where my children are heavily involved in athletics, I have been closely paying attention to the impact and influence different coaches have on my children.
It has become clear to me that some coaches are gifted leaders who inspire my children to rally around them, while others struggle to motivate and engage.
Here are a few of the things my children said when I asked them to describe what their best coaches do to inspire them to perform at a higher level:
“She believed in my abilities.”
We all want to feel like we are good at something – that what we do brings value to whatever activity we are involved in. Great leaders and coaches are intentional about demonstrating that they believe in people.
“He taught me things.”
One of the most important tasks of leadership is to develop people. Most employees want to learn and grow, and it is our job to provide opportunities for this to happen through mentorship and delegation. Leaders need to embrace the task of being a mentor.
“They were ‘hyped-up’ about the game.”
Leaders who care passionately about their organization are better able to inspire others to work towards a common goal. Leaders need to be genuinely excited about what they do – and it’s helpful when they show a little enthusiasm.
“They were cool.”
My children’s point is that it is more fun to be coached by someone they like and respect and can relate to. I’m not sure I’m considered “cool” as a leader, but I do see how it’s important to be able to relax, relate and have fun with my staff.
“She had good things to say, but she also gave me feedback that was hard to hear.”
Being a nice leader is important, but so is being honest. If people are going to improve and excel in any domain, they need leaders who are able to gently give feedback about performance and offer constructive criticism when needed.
“He paid attention to me.”
We all have a desire to matter and to be noticed. For my children, this was manifested in many ways, including giving individual instruction and feedback. Effective leaders need to care and demonstrate they value their employees.
There are many things we can learn and borrow from different disciplines. The next time you watch an athletic coach or music instructor in action, consider what you can learn about leadership from them.
ACHIEVE is conducting a study for a book we are working on and we would love to hear your input.