Character Building Coach #4- Lead by Example

Lead by Example

This is our fourth in a series of articles expanding on our tip sheet: Seven Characteristics of a Character-Building Coach.

Keep commitments. 

When coaches keep commitments they build trust.  Trust will build the strong relationships that get athletes to follow your leadership.  Coaches who are true leaders only commit to what is important and what can be accomplished.  Set priorities for action, commit to action, and finish the job on time. 

Keep track of commitments by writing them down and sharing.  Sharing them with assistant coaches or colleagues can build support and help to monitor.

“An ounce of performance is worth a pound of promises.”  Mae West

Walk the talk

Actions are more believable than words.  Coaches lead by example, whether they like to or not, and coaches are being carefully watched by athletes.  It probably will not become part of the team culture, for example, if a team “value” is communication, but coaches don’t take time to listen. 

Or, does the team leadership demand punctuality, while team meetings always begin 10 minutes late? Or, does the team want good sportsmanship, while coaches consistently swear at athletes, argue with officials or blame them for bad calls?

“Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing.”  Albert Schweitzer 

Take an excuse-free approach

When coaches make a mistake, it should be admitted quickly and emphatically.  Then apologize, if necessary, and immediately begin to take corrective action.  When apologizing, be careful not to equivocate with the “but” word, for example, “I am sorry, but…..”  Just apologize, and move to the next steps right away.

Coaches and leaders who admit to mistakes and take corrective action are seen as courageous leaders who people want to follow.  Courageous leaders inspire courageous teams.

“He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.”  Benjamin Franklin

Encourage sportsmanship always

Sportsmanship needs to be coached and encouraged during all team activities if it’s expected during competition.  Excellent sportsmanship is a learned and taught behavior.  You can nurture sportsmanship in many ways including

  • Have a positive attitude at all times
  • Emphasize that effort is important and winning isn’t everything
  • Congratulate your opponents sincerely for a job well done
  • Do not complain about officiating in front of officials, or behind their backs
  • Do not tolerate poor sportsmanship within your team

“One man practicing sportsmanship is better than a hundred teaching it.” Knute Rockne


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