The Coach (Leader) Deserves No Medal!

The Olympics in Rio closing ceremony took place last week and it is now history! I know you must have read hundreds of articles, stories and analogies linked to leadership but Olympics being a great example of the outcomes of good coaching and dedication to practice, I would like to bring another one and relate it to the ‘coach’ itself.

Did you know that the coaches deserve no medals? They don’t! (I concede didn’t know that!)

I know that the medal is a symbolic think but was wondering why they don’t get it? What drive them? What are the key responsibilities of a sport coach? Doing a quick search on the web, I found below in common among different reliable sources.

  • Select the team;
  • Take risks;
  • Evaluate performance and provide suitable feedback – balance criticism with positivity and motivation;
  • Assess performance strengths and weaknesses and identify development areas;
  • Communicate instructions and commands using clear, simple language;
  • Encourage participants to gain and develop skills, knowledge and techniques;
  • Inspire confidence and self-belief;
  • Act as a role model, gaining the respect and trust of the people they work with;
  • Liaise with other partners in performance management, such as physiotherapists, doctors and nutritionists;

Still, although they do hold all that responsibility, coach their teams on a daily basis / sometimes for years, the Olympic coaches deserve no medals from the International Olympic Committee. Also came to know that in some cases, the coach doesn’t even get paid for that. Interesting, isn’t?

So, putting it bluntly, it seems that the main attraction for the job it is to have in their records that they’ve coached winning Olympians – made history and a good story to tell their kids, grandkids etc! This is it.

Is it? I don’t think so. I am sure there is something else! Don’t you? What about believing that the coach can make the difference in somebody else life? Dreaming about its coachee success and creating opportunities for that? Helping creating a strong plan (along with a lot of practice) and ensure execution?

What a feeling seeing that the through coaching the coachee left with a GOLD MEDAL in hands!!! What a feeling!!!!

“…coaches, leaders and instructors play a critical role in the development of any sport or activity, and in the lives of the people they coach. Good coaches ensure participants have positive experiences, so they are more likely to continue and achieve their potential”. UK ‘Code of Practice for Sports Coaches’

In the business, it is pretty much the same. The leader, being a coach, has twofold responsibility. To deliver business results and develop people. It a stunning feeling seeing coachees succeeding and achieving their ambitions and dreams…

I was in Brazil during the Olympic Games (not for the games and I haven’t been to the Olympic arena), and I had the privilege to be invited to lecture at two renowned Universities on the South part of Brazil. The topic was for my choice and I split into three parts being coaching one of them and how it helped me developing as professional.

In preparation for that, agreed with Trevor to give a message from him to the students (today’s coachees and future/potential coaches) and in that session, we explored the four elements a coach should consider when starting out the life journey as coaches:

Belief: Believe in yourself, and that you can and will make a difference to other people’s lives through coaching. Believe in the potential of others to grow and succeed with your help. This is what the eminent American psychologist Carl Rogers calls practicing “unconditional positive regard” for others.

Dream: To dream means creating high positive expectations for yourself and for others. Dare to dream. The co-founder of Amway Rich de Vos has this to say on the subject: “If you have a dream, give it a chance to happen. Life tends to respond to our outlook towards it. To shape itself to meet our expectations of ourselves and of others”.

Plan: Of course you’ll need a plan. Create opportunities to intervene. Coaching is both a technique and a mindset. For the coach, it means adopting an inquisitive, non-directive approach. Asking purposeful questions, listening and giving feedback. That’s it. It’s so elegantly simple isn’t it? You ask questions, you listen and you give feedback.

The rest is practice, practice, practice.

Execute: Execution means putting your coaching plan into action. Create a timeline, milestones and define your expected outcomes or goals for your coaching. Goals for yourself and goals for those you coach. Nothing happens until you make it happen.

So, back to the GOLD MEDAL point, how much are you (as a leader, coach, peer, individual-contributor etc) doing for your team to earn a GOLD MEDAL?

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