Why are Good Coaches Good Leaders?

I have played different sports for different coaches throughout my athletic career. And I’ve watched and listened to coaches’ coach my children and my nieces and nephew. Coaches are like bosses, some are good and some are not so good.  Some fit better with different kinds of players and some don’t fit that well at all. They generally have different kinds of approaches and demeanors and ultimately they hold the power of the team.
What I see in coaching athletics that I don’t agree with is the no play rule. Coaches who play favourites or don’t play first years because they haven’t ‘earned’ the right to play. My opinion is that if they have made your team either through effort or recruitment that has granted them the right to play. I also don’t see value in not exposing players to real time game situations. That doesn’t make sense to me because the whole intent of a coach should be to develop players and build a high performing team.
I am an Executive Business Coach and I believe sports and business are very closely aligned. I see a lot of commonalities between the two because as a business coach my goal is to develop the client’s level of self-awareness of their challenges or approaches as well as identify and maximize their strengths. And all of that feeds into their ability to visualize believe and ultimately become the kind of leader they want to be.
Not playing athletes in real time game situations is a disservice to them and to the team. If they are not play worthy why are they on your team? Or if you change the rules have you told them why you changed them? Are you playing favourites? Are you afraid to play them? And if yes, what does that say about your coaching skills?
As a leader it important to know the strengths of your team and their individual challenges. It’s also your job to coach and capitalize on their strengths and scourge them to become aware of their challenges so they aren’t defeated by them, and neither is your team.
Coaching isn’t about you, it is a form of service based leadership. Coaching is more than on court strategy, its preparation, practice, planning and paying attention. Most coaches are managing human issues as well as physical capabilities. Good coaches help you identify the error in your approach and are able to then speak to you in a way that you understand how to modify your approach to achieve success individually and of course, then, collectively as a team.  
Coaching isn’t power, it’s an investment in people and it is the ability to help your team see their own power and then use that power for good. Just like leaders, coaches can be viewed as having all the power because of their position, but the truth is, the ones we want to play-for-work-hard-for-and-give-110%-for are the ones who make it about us. The ones that give us the power of choice.
We can’t make anyone work hard unless they want to, we can’t help people overcome their technique flaws unless they can hear us and learn from us. We can’t be good coaches unless our goal is to serve the team and develop their performance. We can’t be good leaders unless we understand that we are coaches and as coaches our only power is the gift of influence and motivation.
How we grow our teams is up to us, so what are you going to do? Play favourites? Look only for the win? Bench new team members? Ridicule or correct? Empower or dominate? Invest or ignore? It’s your game, your team, your opportunity.
No coach has ever won a game by what he knows; it’s what his players know that counts. Paul Bryant*

*Bear Bryant -Paul William “Bear” Bryant (September 11, 1913 – January 26, 1983) was an American college football player and coach. He was best known as the long-time head coach of the University of Alabama football team.
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