5 Characteristics for Coaching Success

A good friend of mine — an excellent high school coach –asked me this summer, “What are the five most important characteristics someone needs to be a success in this business?” Needless to say, that sent my mind in motion as I am always curious as to what makes people successful in their fields. In fact, much of my reading revolves around this topic.

It seems like I came up with different sets of five each new day I thought about it, so even though getting to an exact five is difficult, I can tell you that the these are five I have focused on in my career:

  • Respect: I strongly believe the greater the respect for the coach, the easier the buy-in from your players (I will write about how to encourage buy-in in a future blog post or podcast). And the more often you can get your team to buy in, the more you are going to see them do what you want them to do. I have always tried to gain respect by outworking others in the business and trying to learn as much as I can at the place and position I am in. Work ethic and knowledge have been keys in my ability to gain respect.
  • Relationships: I believe relationships are the foundation for success in any field. Get to know your team; get to know about your team; talk to your players in good times and bad; let your players know you care about them; and develop a trust with your players. One of the most important things you can do for a person is to let them know you genuinely care about them and their life. They have to feel you are in it for them and not for some personal agenda.
  • Curiosity: I have found that the most successful people in any business have an unbelievable intellectual curiosity about their field. They talk to the best in the business; they read about others; they listen to CDs and DVD’s; they want to know what the best are doing and how that can relate to them; they are curious to know what you know and how that might help them and their program.
  • Ability to motivate: This is an aspect of coaching that requires one constantly “read” what is needed for their team and each player on a daily basis. It also requires much thought and study to find new ways of accomplishing these tasks. Find out what makes players tick and then create ways to motivate them to get the most they are capable of each day.
  • Choosing the right job: Make sure you know all you can about a job before taking it. I have often said that you have to find out if the expectations of the job exceed the reality of the job. Don’t jump at a job that sounds good or has a certain perceived prestige without learning all you can about that job. No one can be successful at a place that does not have or cannot create an environment to succeed. Finally, keep in mind that timing is also an important factor. It can be a great job at the wrong time. The onus is on you to thoroughly investigate and evaluate the job before you make a final decision.

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