The legendary head coach of the Green Bay Packers, Vince Lombardi, once said “Leaders are made, they are not born. They are made by hard work, which is the price which all of us must pay to achieve any goal that is worthwhile.” It is not easy to be an effective leader, it takes hard work to gain the confidence of the team and understand the motivational dynamics of each player.
Fortunately, there are some simple rules that apply to all leadership situations, including sports:
- Treat players with dignity to earn their respect.
- Try to understand each team member well enough to be able to identify their specific strengths and weaknesses.
- Lead by example. Coaches that expect players to be on time should never be late for a meeting.
- Share strategy with players. It is much easier for players to support a strategy if they understand it.
- Remain decisive and confident. A coach’s confidence can be contagious. If the players know a coach believes in them, they might start believing in themselves too.
- Finally, instruct players in a positive manner.
This last point is often missed by inexperienced coaches and leaders alike, and this rule applies to all sports.
For example, at a critical point in a baseball game, do not tell the pitcher:
“Whatever you do, don’t throw one high and inside, this guy will hit it over the fence.”
“I want you to strike this guy out with a fast one, low and outside.”