The hiring process in a business is pretty clear-cut. There’s an opening that requires a certain set of skills. Qualified candidates apply, and the person deemed capable of doing the best job gets the position.
In youth sports organizations, the process can be upside-down at times. When a club needs a coach, the search begins. The club tries to get the best coach available. Adding non-coaching duties to a job description is a common way for clubs to increase the salary of quality coaches.
Among the most common non-coaching jobs coaches perform is a Director of Coaching position. Oftentimes, coaches that don’t have the leadership skills needed to manage coaches end up doing DOC jobs. The skills that they have, the ones that make them successful coaches, don’t mesh well with leadership.
Anson Dorrance, the head coach of the 21-time NCAA Champion University of North Carolina Women’s Soccer Program, said, “Some of the best coaches I know are incredible nags.”
That can be especially true in youth soccer. Developing proper skills in young players can require a coach to insist that players break old habits, nagging them until the skill is consistently performed correctly.
But nagging – or more nicely put, micromanaging – is not an effective leadership tool. So coaches who are put in a position of leadership have to adopt a different approach. They can rely on the same skills they use when coaching, but need to make a few adjustments in order to get the most out of their staff.
For example, every good coach knows the strengths and weaknesses of every one of their players. He or she knows what each player can handle physically, intellectually and emotionally, and pick and choose times to challenge the athlete. When put into a director of coaching role, that same coach might not take the time to find out the strengths and weakness of each coach and will not be able to offer help in the most needed areas.
A good youth coach can motivate a bunch of kids, but can he or she inspire a group of adults? The process is the same. It involves appealing to pride, using encouraging language and building confidence. The approach might need to be tweaked, however.
Coaches are problem-solvers. They think tactically to find the right solution to the certain scenario, and they have all been in situations where an in-game adjustment turned the game around.
But can they do that with an adult who is dead-set on ignoring advice or suggestions.
In an article on INC.com titled “5 Essential Skills for Successful Coaching,” author Yael Bacharch points out that directors need to “Try to see things through the eyes of others. There may be reasons why a certain person is hard to manage. Has he or she always been this way, or may new external factors be contributing? Is there anything in your own management style that could be triggering an oppositional response?
“They have to be more than directors, supervisors, or even visionaries, “Bararach explains. “They have to be partners -- genuine partners. They understand that success is embedded in the accomplishments of those they work with.”
Jerry Yeagley, the now retired coach of Indiana Men’s Soccer, defined leadership this way: “A good leader is someone who empowers people to lead themselves and others.” Are your coaching directors able to do that?
Encourage your directors to work on defining their leadership style. What kind of leader do they want to be? Then help them come up with the skills needed for that style.