<![CDATA[Become a Coach for Your Team Mahatma Gandhi challenged us to become the change we want to see in the world. To create great company leaders must teach and emulate the qualities you want to see in your employees—Focus, commitment and belief. Finding those qualities in ourselves can sometimes be difficult. We may not always know what those qualities are or how to manifest them in a behavioral manner. But to be a leader means that you have to find the right resources at the right time and put them into play. I tell my clients that if you don’t have a particular skill, find someone who has that skill and imitate them. If you don’t know anyone who has the set of skills you need to develop, read a biography about someone who has them, and find out how they developed them. If you’re not sure who has the skills you’re looking for, try renting a movie that you remember seemed inspiring. It’s likely the skills you are looking for are embedded in that story. Herman Boone was the coach for the TC Williams football team located in Alexandria, Virginia. Coach Boone, an African-American, took over the team in 1971 at the height of racial desegregation in Virginia. In the film, Coach Boone’s focus on building a championship football team pushes his young athletes to develop into excellent football players. But more importantly, he inspires them to become a team in spite of the racial barriers common in that era. The movie, Remember the Titans and its star, Denzel Washington demonstrates several key coaching skills that any manager can use in building a team.
- Respect Each Person Unconditionally– Herman Boone did not treat the black players any differently than he did the white players. In fact, one of his first actions when the black athletes got on one bus and the white players got on the other bus was to pull them all off and to have them get back on the bus by teams (offense and defense).
- State Your Mission: Too many managers are not able to state their corporate mission or even more importantly how their division or department mission feeds the corporate goal. Herman Boone’s mission was to win the State Championship. He communicated this effectively and everything his players and coaches did fed that goal.
- Deal with (don’t deny) Conflicts: Coach Boone anticipated conflict and was prepared when the inevitable happened. His coaching style, not surprisingly, created a great deal of conflict among his coaching staff and, of course, the players. With his coaches, he dealt with conflict though informal channels while using the conflict to mold his players into a team.
- Set up Employees for Success: Even when his players or coaches made bad decisions, Coach Boone used those opportunities for teaching and encouragement that led to success on the next play or strategy session.
- Spend time getting to know your “peeps” One of Coach Boone’s great strategies was to room white and black players together so they would get to know one another as people. When they protested, he increased their training camp from two practices a day to three practices a day. The players soon realized that finding out about your roommates favorite music was a lot easier than running extra sprints on a hot summer afternoon.