Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely is the best known quotation of the 19th century British politician Lord Acton. He borrowed the idea from several other writers who had previously expressed the same thought in different words.
I remember a conversation I had with Doc Massimo decades ago where he spoke about the importance of getting the gymnasts involved in the decisions in the gym. A good coach should be a facilitator and a leader. Not a dictator.
As a coach I am sure you are proud of your team of gymnasts and coaches (or at least you should be!). You have put in countless hours at clinics and training camps to get to where you are. Those fortunate enough to be in the “Head Coach” position should ask themselves a
simple question that will make them look at their team differently:
“Are the gymnasts and coaches in my program proud of their roles, and the club?”
If you cannot answer immediately, YES, then there is work to be done.
Steven Goldstein points out in INC magazine that it all comes down to CULTURE.
I have worked with many leaders whose teams were fundamentally dispassionate and it affected both their behavior and their performance. This culture affects everyone, regardless of the role. Creating the right culture is a great way to keep your people and guaranteeing you deliver consistent, strong results.
I have used and seen the following three techniques really produce great results:
1. Recognize achievements regularly.
2. Enable them to make decisions.
3. Offer skill development opportunities and resources. (Through Training Camps, Congresses, Clinics and Conferences)
In the gym you expect your gymnasts to work hard because they want to get better. You expect your coaching staff to work hard because the want the gymnasts to improve and for the gym to succeed. With our gymnasts we try to encourage them along the way. Reward their accomplishments and help them learn from their failures. DO WE DO THE SAME WITH OUR COACHES? A bit of encouragement goes a long way. With my staff I have a police of PRAISE publicly, PUNISH privately. I know that sounds harsh but everyone makes mistakes and needs to be reminded what their job in on occasion. When you recognize their accomplishments, both privately and publicly, they feel good about what they do and it motivates them to continue striving to be even better.
At GYM MOMENTUM camp every night we ask each other, “What was the BEST part of your day?” It allows me to give a shout out to each coaches accomplishments that day. The other day at my Portsmouth Gym One of my coaches, Ryleigh, was super animated and engaged with the preschool class that was coming in. When she was done I made sure I told her how much I appreciate her energy and that her attitude is what ATLANTIC is about.
Enable them to make decisions.
In my Coaches as Educators lecture I say, As the head coach you cannot just create the masterpiece, you must also prepare the canvas. One of your core responsibilities is to find and develop talent. Both with gymnasts but also with your coaching staff. Too many coaches refuse to let go of any power and I have seen this be a downfall to many programs. Why did you hire and train these coaches if you are not going to let them make any decisions? This is a sure way to have talented staff leave and go to another gym or undermine you behind your back.
With your gymnasts you also need to give them some power in the decision making process of their workouts. Obviously you need to lead them into making the right choices but they will be more motivated if they have some responsibility in the process.
Offer skill development opportunities and resources. (Through Training Camps, Congresses, Clinics and Conferences)
Education is an ongoing process. It should NEVER end. For your coaching staff they need to have the opportunity to grow. Send them to congresses, send them to training camps. Have a coach in to the gym to work with them. ** Become members of USECA or other organizations that focus in education.
Engaged coaches and gymnasts want to grow. They constantly look for opportunities to learn new skills, improve their performance and move to a higher level or position. It’s your responsibility to present opportunities for personal growth and skill development. The reasons gyms often give for not doing this is that it takes too much time away from their jobs and it costs too much. Education is expensive. Ignorance is too.
**I know that my staff doesn’t listen to me all the time. But I can have a different coach in who says the same thing and they listen and take action. Yes- this is a pain in the butt. It is also the reality of the Proximity Paradox- I was looking for a definition to describe the case where because you are too close to the information source you do not believe it. I am sure there is a better phrase that describes it.