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I was having lunch with a fellow coach last week and he asked me point blank what makes my track programs successful. This was a good question. After thinking for a second, I told him I thought three things made a program successful:
1. Clear Communication
2. Clear Expectations
3. Know Your Stuff
However, upon further thinking on the subject, I think these 3 principles have to do with more then just running a successful sports program. Any leadership role and any leader will need to practice these 3 things routinely and effectively. When practiced well, these principles guide me in my role as a Husband, Father, Teacher, Coach, Ministry Leader, etc.
Without clear communication, people will have no idea of their role, their destination, or where they are coming from. Focus your communication to identifying your vision daily- who you are, what you do, why you do it, and where you are going. People need information repeated regularly. It is even necessary to over communicate ideas, vision, mission, goals and strategies. Over emphasize and communicate your procedures, principles and practices.
I have seen many leaders (coaches, parents, pastors, teachers, etc), including myself, who hold people accountable for a high level of success, but are never clear on what the success they are seeking even looks like. It’s hard to hold someone responsible for meeting an expectation you’ve never given them. Expectations are important in every single leadership relationship. If mismanaged or poorly communicated, expectations often create conflict and dysfunction within the relationship and/or group. A lot of problems in any leadership position come from a leader not laying out their expectations. This must be done first thing and then repeated to keep everyone accountable.
Know Your Stuff
This one is simple. If you don't know what you are doing, how can you do it? As a track coach, there are many things I can do to be constantly learning more about track and field. I read, watch, observe, take other coaches out to lunches and pick their brains, attend clinics, etc. As a parent, I read, watch, observe, take other mentors out to lunches and pick their brains, attend church, etc. As a husband, I read, watch, observe, take other mentors out to lunches and pick their brains, attend marriage retreats/seminars, etc. Get the point? I strive to know my stuff. I strive to know more and to be better. I feel it is irresponsible not to. Furthermore, when you don't know what you are doing, it is extremely evident to those you lead that you don't deserve their trust or respect. As a leader, it is crucial that you know your stuff. It will not only benefit you and bring you more joy in life, but your employees, coworkers, athletes, family, etc. will be influenced greatly by you.
If I took you out to lunch and asked you what leadership principles made you successful, what would you add or change to this list?