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Coaching Your Team
By Ray Pelletier   Printer Friendly Version

Have you ever wondered -- really tried to figure it out -- why certain teams win consistently and others don't? I have. I've studied it intently for nearly two decades, spending hundreds of hours with sports teams and thousands of hours in break rooms, boardrooms and meeting rooms throughout corporate America.

In any given week I could be speaking at a major convention, an intimate board meeting or out in the field with the front line troops. I must admit, it's fun to study what makes a team click and it's a blast being in a locker room just before an important championship game. But there's a special kind of rush when I'm addressing a group of management types and I realize they finally "get it"...when I see the light bulbs go off as I share with them that management is dead and that to be successful in the future they must be COACHES.

If you're a manager of people, the master key to consistent winning is to realize that you're a COACH -- and you have a TEAM!

Coaching is so different than managing. It's an entirely different concept. A different mind-set. And fortunate is the company that is composed of coaches and teams rather than management and employees. I've been invited to motivate dozens of championship sports teams and I know how winning programs operate. Winning starts and ends with the coach. You get the sense of the system immediately when you realize that every assistant coach and every player knows the plan and can articulate it and commit to it.

I believe a coach is a loving guide. Coaching, in a word, is personal. It's family. Coaching is a "we" thing, not a "me" thing. It's one for all and all for one. A coach makes certain that everybody knows the team's mission and that everybody's there to help everybody else make the team win. Each person on the team has his or her particular assignment (or position) and the winning coach sees to it that they know exactly where they fit in and how necessary they are to the team's success.

Nobody is in the dark as to their importance and value and ability to contribute. You may not be in the limelight now, but your time will come and you have to be ready at a moment's notice.

A winning coach brings his or her team together, sometimes every day, to discuss challenges and share ideas as to how to build a winning team - and while everybody has a voice, everybody is also real clear on who the head coach is.

Communication by the coach is constant. There's a lot of caring going on...finding out where people are hurting (in both their personal and work place lives), counseling them, giving them encouragement and assurances. Successful coaches don't have team members who just want to do a good job ... the team members want to EXCEED the coach's expectations.

I set out one day to list a thousand ways good athletic coaches motivate their teams. In no time, I'd listed over 200 ideas, most of which I'd rarely seen in a corporate climate.

Why is there such a disparity? It's because of how we learned business - in most companies the practice tends to be to place power in the hands of individual managers rather than in teams. This is not the way it works in coaching. The coach's very reason for existence is to enable the transfer of power, authority and achievement to their teams. Winning teamwork is the coach's primary objective. It is on this psychological foundation that consistently superior performance is assured. It involves entirely different concepts and approaches in which personal involvement with team members is the priority -- it is a system that DEMANDS constant motivation, support, close communication and continual interaction by all team members in much more of a personal than business atmosphere.

Let me put it this way:

In my seminars - when I ask audiences to fill out blind cards telling me their problems at work -- one of their top concerns is the lack of communication with management. People do not know where they stand. They don't feel important in the large, corporate picture. They don't know if anyone cares about their views. Management's goals are seen as just more work to do. It was everyone for themselves. Teamwork is secondary to personal advancement.

Those are the problems a coach/team system addresses. Coaching is the process through which everyone comes to appreciate the benefits of "team above self"... something few people can feel in their hearts and grasp in their minds in the usual cut-and-dried employee/manager relationship. Most people have never experienced a system that empowers everyone individually through empowering everyone collectively.

The coach/team system does it beautifully. It is LEADERSHIP in its purest and most productive form.

A client of mine, Glenn McCusker, is an unusual CEO and he says: "It's not where you start, it's where you finish that matters." No matter where you're at as a coach, it's time to get busy and decide to be a better coach, recognizing that the old style of management won't work today.

Don't let the game pass you by, coach. You're better than that!

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