It is becoming obvious that all Championship teams have a clear understanding of the importance of great leadership. This past year, we were able to see it across all levels of basketball.
COLLEGE BASKETBALL CHAMPIONSHIP COACH:
WNBA CHAMPIONSHIP PLAYER:
NBA CHAMPIONSHIP COACH:
At the end of most seasons, coaches will talk about their leadership, and their season, in a similar tone. If leadership is an important factor in the success of a team, then why are coaches ignoring it? Here is one of the most ridiculous statements that you will hear from people about leadership:
“He/She is a born leader.”
Nobody is a “born leader.” People are a reflection of their experiences, the people around them, and their vision for the future. The purpose of this post is to challenge coaches to formulate a LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT PLAN.
Here are five suggestions, to improve the leadership in your program:
Start a group chat with your leaders.
This sounds simple, but it can make a huge difference. This off-season, I used the GroupMe App to start a group chat with our Captains. In this chat, I constantly share leadership articles, quotes, and ask questions. This has created a clear understanding of my expectations, and allows me to control the messaging that our leaders are receiving. The questions allow for a better understanding of what our leaders know, and areas for growth and development.
Launch a Leadership Development Program at your school:
We had our first Leadership Development Program at our school this fall. We took our Athletics Department theme, and designed a program to spread this down to our student-athlete leaders. This included an introduction to our theme (Servant Leadership) from our Athletic Director, a college coaches panel, four break out sessions, and a varsity coaches panel. By the end of the program, we had a clear understanding of our standard, expectations, and how we could work with our athletes to ensure success.
Spend an entire practice silent or only whispering:
This idea was first put on display, years ago, by Geno Auriemma. He spent an entire practice whispering his instructions. This meant that the players had to listen, communicate, and execute. All coaches agree that the best teams are player led, and so it only makes sense for coaches to take a step back. Record the practice that you are quiet, and then watch it with your staff to learn about the leadership and communication dynamics of your team.
Clearly communicate your expectations at your parent meeting:
At the high school level, the most underrated aspect of the “buy-in” in your program is the parents. Programs who struggle are constantly complaining about the parents. In reality, the percentages tend to show that great players are driven by overly involved parents. If you embrace the power of these parents, and work to control the messaging, then it can work in your favor. If the parents understand what you are trying to accomplish, then they are more likely to express these things on the drive home.
Your best tool is former players/leaders:
The best tool that you have in your program are your former leaders. Those former players are going to be able to connect with your current leaders, in a different way. As coaches, we can not always get on the same level as our leaders. Our former players have the ability to do that, but once again, we can control the messaging. If you are not utilizing your former players, to help support your current leaders, then it is time to get started.
These are just five of the ideas that we recommend for coaches, as you try to develop leaders in your program. In six months, you are going to be talking about the leadership on your team. There is a strong chance that you will talk about your team, the same way that you discuss your leadership. Start pouring into those leaders now, so that you can maximize the potential of your current roster.
You can reach us for more information on Leadership Development by e-mailing us at: