The great equalizer of the coaching profession is that there will always be challenges and obstacles to overcome, regardless of whether you’re Urban Meyer or Nick Saban, or a high school coach that just finished the season winless.
The Harvard Business Review took an interesting look at some of the toughest common challenges that coaches face, and offered some important advice on dealing with situations that are going to come up at some point in your coaching career.
Susan David, the founder of the Harvard/McLean Institute of Coaching, starts by saying that we should look internally when confronted with that type of situation. While the article is worded from a manger’s perspective, it can easily be translated to coaching, or anything leadership based.
“When a leader is coaching someone who they’ve identified as ‘challenging’ it means that manager has an attachment to an idea about that person,” David explains in the piece. That was followed by three suggestions to overcome that particular thought process; assume change is possible, take an alternate view, and manage your emotions.
The article also takes a look at how to deal with pessimistic players, players who lack confidence, and how to deal with a player who you don’t trust.
Here’s the Cliff Notes version of the suggestions for each of those scenario:
The pessimistic player: Resist the urge to get the player to see things exactly your way. Focus on what the two of you can agree on and strive to find common ground. “Coaching works best when you walk in the other person’s shoes and come to a shared version of what needs to happen.”
The player who lacks confidence: Be specific when praising the player and don’t be afraid to ask questions like “Why do you think I’m complimenting you?”.
The player you don’t trust: Monitor them early and often and set clear expectations. “Monitoring and checking in is built in from the beginning so it doesn’t look like you’re checking up on them when they’re doing something wrong,” David explains.