After a disappointing 8-5 season, including a 5-4 mark in Big Ten play and bowl loss to South Carolina, Jim Harbaugh made a number of staff changes, added some quality coaches to the staff, and also asked his players one important question to get immediate feedback during a team meeting to help accelerate their improvement before the start of the 2018 season.
According to 247, Harbaugh asked players in that team meeting "How do we as coaches get better?" He then took things one step further in asking what he could do personally. Those simple, powerful questions went a long way with players, allowing them to open up and share their thoughts and feelings honestly.
Harbaugh took the feedback to heart, and the result has been a more personable leader of the Wolverines, who can now be seen around the facility giving the occasional hug, according to the article.
This excerpt from the 247 piece talks about the change that has been seen in Harbaugh from running back Karan Higdon, and what it's done for the players and team culture.
“He's been more personal with the guys and more approachable. And that's definitely been helping. Coach is a football guru and he's been so focused on the game. Taking a step back from that and continuing to build stronger relationships with the players has changed our culture. Changed our atmosphere around the facility. And it's been great.
“We're just more personal. He wants a hug sometimes. Sometimes you've got to give him a hug. The guy wants a hug.”
Along with the personality change in Harbaugh, the feeback prompted changes in what the program is fueling players with food-wise, as well as some changes in the weight room centered on competition.
So often as coaches we get stuck in a routine of who we are, and don't seek the counsel of the players on our roster of what they need from us to help them maximize their potential. The move by Harbaugh has surely fueled some changes for the Wolverines.
It's an approach we can all learn something from.
Head here to read more, including whether players would rather be called "a dude" by defensive coordinator Don Brown, or get a hug from the new, more personable version of Harbaugh - spoiler alert, it's not even a contest.