The coaching staff for the Major League Baseball team I consult with asked me during spring training to share my perspective on how a football coach leads his staff—or how to “coach your coaches”—throughout the year, and how it can relate to a baseball manager’s job.
As I prepared my outline, I identified three jobs the leader of an organization or team must perform. To reinforce this teaching, I devised three distinct descriptors of what a mature head coach (or leader) looks like and where his or her focus needs to be on a daily basis.
Below are three key personality traits that must be present in a leader or coach of coaches. These are paramount for creating a winning team culture in the 21st century.
Be the culture keeper and motivator. You must have a finger on the pulse of your staff and the organization at all times. It is your job to foresee any potential pitfalls that lie ahead and prepare your staff for them. Leadership used to be about authority. Now it is about authenticity and feeling the pulse of your team.
You must be a killer of poor attitudes, gossip, relationship barriers and anything else that threatens your healthy culture. Nearly 90 percent of a team culture comes from what players see their coach do. The rest is driven by what a leader says. You must understand how to approach problems in an appropriate manner. Do not tolerate them. Handle issues quickly and decisively. A speech doesn’t change culture. Behavior does.
The key to driving culture is to apply gentle but relentless pressure with consistent, daily messages in a positive manner. Think of it like an engineer driving a train. You must keep the train on the right track going in the right direction, but you must also be prepared, and possess the skills needed, to get the train back on track if it starts to veer off the proper path.
Challenge Yourself with These Questions
- Which of these three roles are you most comfortable with and why?
- Which one do you need to improve? How will you start today?
- How can you apply this information to your personal life?
I encourage you to think about the things you need to do on a daily basis to drive culture and cultivate trust, both at work and at home.
Remember: as important as vision and mission statements are, culture eats vision for lunch. You are either coaching culture or allowing it to happen. There is no in between. Leadership starts with you!