Taking responsibility can be easier said than done. Blaming someone else or external circumstances can be a way to deflect ownership, soften mistakes, and protect an individual’s ego.
Coaches have a tremendous influence over their athletes. A coach’s philosophy, communication, demeanor, and competence all play a role. The expectations a coach has for a player, whether spoken or not, have a significant impact on that player’s ability to reach his or her potential. I call this the self-fulfilling prophecy of leadership.
Only 34% of American workers are engaged in their work, according to a Gallup report published in March 2016. That’s the highest since 2011. A major aspect of engagement is motivation. In sports (the work of athletes), players tend to be more engaged and motivated to play their best than other occupations. Perhaps that is due to more streamlined focus toward winning, clear roles, and interdependence of team sports. However, coaches play a significant role in their team’s daily motivation.
There is nothing more frustrating to a coach than a player who doesn’t listen to feedback. For an athlete to maximize his or her abilities physically, technically, tactically, or mentally requires that he or she be receptive to feedback – coaching. Without it, athletes are left to the slow improvement method of trial and error.
Responsibility equals accountability equals ownership. And a sense of ownership is the most powerful weapon a team or organization can have,” Pat Summit, former Tennessee Women’s Basketball Coach, wrote in her book Reach for the Summit.
Motivating others is a challenge that every leader faces. However, leaders often approach the issue from an inaccurate perspective. They ask, “How can I motivate my team?” What they should be asking is, “How can I create a motivating climate around my team?” The difference is subtle, but the second question is profoundly more accurate. It allows solutions which are actually in a leader’s control. Fundamentally, we can’t motivate others.
Our brains filter information 24/7. Some information makes it to our consciousness, some doesn’t. Some information we believe. Other we dismiss. A hidden process in our brains causes us to make assumptions, judgements, and decisions without having all the information. It is called the confirmation bias.
Casting vision is an essential skill for any leader. Whether you lead a household, a college football team, or a Fortune 500 corporation you won’t succeed without vision. Why is a vision so important? According to Warren Bennis, professor at USC’s Marshall School of Business, “In order to take the organization to the highest possible level, leaders must engage their people with a compelling and tangible vision.”
I once heard that the hardest person to lead is yourself. I’d never seen leadership in that way. However, since that day, I have proven the concept to be true. I am my toughest leadership challenge. Others have said you must first lead yourself before you can lead others. So, are you leading yourself well? Where do you start?