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  • Robert A. Dougan, M.A.

What Is A Coach?



A top coach for an NBA basketball team was once asked in a press conference after a tough playoff loss how he was going to change his players to get them ready for the next game. His answer was simple, and he said, “I don’t manage these guys, but rather I coach them to success by creating an environment where they can be successful”. It is quite a statement, as he was very clear that he was the coach and not the manager of the team. He believed that his job was to help their performance on and off the court. He’s not going to work with his players on how to take a jump shot, because after all they are pros, and they know how to shoot. However, as a good coach, he will analyze the opportunities to take better shots to improve their game.


Many coaches have a hard time switching gears between managing and coaching. Managing in my opinion, a lot of times is about wanting the span of control over situations, people, and/or processes. As managers, we have a lot of pressure on our plate because we are accountable for the results of the organization, and typically the path of least resistance is to manage others to try and get those results. Unfortunately, this mentality creates a dependency culture, and short-lived results unless you have the energy to manage all the time. From my experience, this type of constant managing ends up leading to management burnout.


The key to a good coach is to have others take control over what is ‘theirs’, which is their own performance. Treat your team as professionals because this is what they are. If they are new, sure we train them, but eventually, they join the elite squad with the skills necessary to compete. Your job is to guide them to success, give them the resources to exercise their best in their career. Have the patience to partner with others to let them find their success and talk about how they can find a better way. It is about the long game, and overall, it benefits you as the coach and the person being coached to ultimately achieve long-lasting performance.

What do you think?


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