Four Priorities for Coaches

My sister Nicki did something none of her older, and supposedly wiser, four siblings managed to do the first time round. She found her ideal spouse.

Dan is a fabulous husband and father who is kind, thoughtful, artistic, and hardworking. Oh and did I mention he is six foot four and good looking to boot? An involved father who not only serves as their two sons’ Scout leader, he has also recently taken on the role of coaching their hockey team.

Prior to the hitting the ice for their first scheduled practice this year, Dan decided the kids needed some time to get to know and trust one another. To make it both fun and meaningful, he organized an informal ball hockey game. In addition to bonding as a group, the game also contributed to their overall physical conditioning and ability to play as a team. It was a very clever strategy. Clearly, Dan is going to be a great coach.

It also made me realize there are a lot of similarities between Dan’s role as a hockey coach and my role as a community coach. Both of our respective roles are about ensuring direction, taking action, making better decisions, and developing the inherent strengths of the team. To make that happen we often need to wear different hats. It means that in addition to being a coach, at any given time we may also need to be a cheerleader, teacher, consultant, facilitator, or mentor.

While he is coaching athletes on a sports team, we’re supporting individual leaders on a community team to achieve their goals. However, it does seem that both our roles focus on supporting what experts have determined as four priorities: 1) relationships 2) results 3) reflection and 4) reach.

Helping teams or communities develop and sustain new and trusting relationships is fundamental to coaching. On sports teams, as in communities, that often means we’re playing with people we don’t yet know but must if we are to respect and utilize their unique talents. It also means working to ensure consensus, commitment, cooperation, and shared leadership among the players.

We’re also both focused on coaching that will ensure results. We need to help our respective players identify challenges or bad habits that have kept us from making progress and taking advantage of opportunities. As coaches we can help clarify vision and goals, identify outcomes and critical action steps, access resources, and monitor progress.

As coaches, both Dan and I also need to ensure reflection if our respective groups are going to see the potential, promise, and possibilities. We can create openings for understanding progress or perhaps the lack of it, develop consensus for change, share stories of success, and initiate new strategies for group and individual learning.

Coaches also help ensure reach and a clear focus as to where a group wants to go, as well as motivate players to get there. We need to make sure we tap and sustain the passion and action of the entire team in a way that will spur inspirational results.

Bottom line is that we all need to be coaches if we are to support the change that will result in greater impact and creative and innovative solutions. As coaches we will need to improve communication, resolve conflicts, and strengthen relationships.

Ultimately though, we need to understand and value the role of coaching as being an essential component of the leadership that will ensure individual and collective learning and growth.

Posted on 11-28-10


Great blog, Brenda!  I also find that being ‘coachable’ is also a great strength.  It seems our most coachable communities are the ones that are moving forward with leaps and bounds…

•Posted by Janet Naclia  on  11/30/10  at  11:06 AM

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