Pro sports organizations value coaches who build relationships and demand accountability from every player on their teams.
Pete Carroll, head coach of the Super Bowl-champion Seattle Seahawks, is a prime example of a coach who isn't afraid to build personal relationships with his players, and not just on a surface level. Carroll is truly committed to making his players feel cared about and loved.
These qualities are just as important—if not more important—for developing student-athletes at the high school level.
As I consult with high school and collegiate athletic directors who are in the process of hiring a coach, the most important questions that arise are "Can he or she relate to the athletes?" and "Is he or she a relationship-driven coach, or a win-at-all-costs coach?"
Here are the seven characteristics we teach coaches who wish to become relationship-driven leaders:
1. They See Themselves as Mentors, Not Just Coaches
They not only coach the technical and tactical aspects of the game, they also focus on developing the whole person. Mentors seek to have lifelong relationships. They are relational and they hold their athletes accountable.
2. They are Teachers, Not Screamers
They are process-driven rather than results-driven, and they constantly teach while being "easy to please and hard to satisfy." They may be loud and get excited, but they are not mean-spirited screamers who are always looking at the scoreboard.
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3. They Develop Trust, Not Fear
Relationship-driven coaches constantly cultivate trust with their athletes through consistency. They refuse to do anything that will dissipate trust, such as using shame and intimidation to motivate their athletes.
4. They Get Personal With Players
They have healthy and appropriate personal relationships with their players. They call them by their first names or give them positive nicknames that bespeak greatness.
5. They Walk Through the Locker Room Without Invoking Fear
The best coaches create a climate and culture in which the players welcome their coach's presence in the locker room. They also know when to give a player some space.
6. They Make Every Player Feel Safe, Secure and Significant
Relationship-driven coaches lead in such a way that makes every player feels safe, secure and significant within the team structure.
7. They Develop the Whole Person
Today's top leaders realize that for optimum performance, they must develop the entire person—not just his or her technical skills. These leaders hit all the components—developing the physical, mental, social, emotional and spiritual qualities of each individual.
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