What is leadership from the perspective of a coach. I’d Like to start this off with the statement, Coaching inherits the characteristics of leadership. We need to define what coaching is and what leadership is. To do so we will break it down. Coaching is the development of athletes to be their best selves, this is both on and off the pitch. Even though Coaching revolves around the sport and the skills and the drills, it is more than that. Coaching also allows to build the athletes to become there better selves, a good example of this would be the following quote by Bill Bradley, the former professional basketball player and U.S. Senator from New Jersey, observes how coaches can shape athletes’ character in Values of the Game (1998): “By talking candidly about the problems of adolescence or the vagaries of the parent–child relationship, some high school coaches extend their reach to life off the court. Their players may never become pros, but because they learned the values of the game they are better prepared for life. Many people in all walks of life will tell you that their lives were turned around by a coach who took an interest in their total well-being” (p. 23) the bolded line above indicates that coaching tries to better prepare the athlete for life and to develop to be the best version of themselves to achieve their goals, to build character, whether it becomes in professional sport or life endeavours.
Now if we go through what leadership is, to me it is best defined in the article What We Know About Leadership (Robert Hogan, Robert B. Kaiser). “Leadership is about the performance of teams, groups, and organizations. Good leadership promotes effective team and group performance, which in turn enhances the well-being of the incumbents; bad leadership degrades the quality of life for everyone associated with it.” this statement in my perspective is what leadership means, obviously leadership is a complex concept to accurately define but this is close to what I currently see. From the line above we see the similarity between leadership and coaching. Coaching tries to build values and to develop the athlete to be the best version of themselves to achieve their goals, leadership enhances the well-being of the workers in an organization; they in short try to achieve the same fundamental outcome and hence share the similar characteristics. In coaching like leadership there are 3 coaching styles, Command Style; being in command without accepting question or discussion with the athletes aka the one in charge, Submissive Style; being laid back and not attempting to challenge the athlete it is more like babysitting and letting them do as they please without proper guidance aka going with the flow, and finally Cooperative Style; allows athletes to come with ideas and also gives structure with specific guidelines to allow them to come up with own solution, yet coach will step in the right moments for lessons learned or to provide a solution aka the facilitator, conductor and choreographer. Similarly in Leadership there is also 3 styles similar to coaching, these leadership styles are Authoritarian; being in command without giving the follower the chance to provide or question ideas or task aka one in charge, Laissez-Faire; being hands free giving the follower the freedom to do as they please without providing real guidance aka going with the flow, and finally Democratic; giving the follower the ability to discuss and come up with solutions aka the facilitator, conductor and choreographer.
Both in coaching and leadership the 3 styles mean roughly the same thing and share same characteristics as we saw in the example above, and in this short blog post we can see that coaching inherits the characteristics of leadership. Lastly, to close with the following quote by Corey Jamison, PhD as she mentions mentions in her article People-Centered Leadership: Leading People vs. Managing Process the following “Leaders rise through an organization based on their ability to get results, more often than on how they inspire people to do their best work. In the scores of organizations, I’ve worked with over three decades, rarely have I seen leaders held accountable for unlocking the potential in their people in the same way they are held accountable for delivering results.”
I hope that coaches in any sport, will be more accountable by the way we unlock the potential, empower and build character of our athletes instead of getting the results aka the win. I also hope that in organizational setting leadership becomes more accountable in unlocking the potential in their people in the same way they are held accountable in delivering results aka generating revenue and performance.