This might be the hardest piece of advice I have crafted yet because it hits me right between the eyes.
Combine the two and you begin to realize how important leadership is for a team to function. This idea is not new. Taking ownership for your leadership success and failures is a whole new ball game.
I just started reading the first few chapters of Extreme Ownership and it has been a long time since reading something that just popped me right in the mouth.
In essence there are two types of leaders — effective and ineffective. Point blank and hard to argue.
As a coach, parent, teacher, husband, and friend I view myself as a leader. Some of these titles come with the expectation that you are a leader. For many of us we just assume we are a leader because of the title and therefore are leaders. The title is not earned, but assumed.
Many of us assume the title, but are not effective. One thing I am learning more as I get older is that to be a leader is one of the hardest things a person will do and become. As a leader you MUST assume all responsibility for your team, your organization, your staff ,and this includes success AND failure. You have to own EVERYTHING.
Think on this.
As a coach how many times have you reflected on a game and pointed the finger at the players for not performing how you instructed? They did not run a play properly or execute as efficiently at they should have.
As a teacher how many times have you blamed the kids for being lazy and not caring when it comes to learning and not turning in work?
As a parent how many times have you grown frustrated by the process of your children not listening to you?
In all of these instances we can relate whether you are a coach, teacher, parent, or a student, player, and/or child. In all of these cases we place blame on the other person most of the time.
We don’t take responsibility.
As a coach this season we have not played to our potential in a few games. Our record does not indicate what we are capable of being as a team. After these games I could conjure up reasons why. Not tall enough, not big enough, we can’t score, kids don’t want it bad enough, they play too much ball, look tired, etc. I could come up with a list of excuses a mile long and often times this is what many people do.
I could convince myself that I coached correctly and the players simply would not respond. I could easily convince myself that it was the fault of the players not the fault of the coaching.
This is foolish. And wrong.
I have realized that I failed as a leader. I failed as a coach. I was too soft early on. I did not convey the ideas and strategies properly. I did not coach my team to allow them to succeed. I did not properly teach our framework and system so they could perform at optimal levels.
This is a hard pill to swallow. I take the blame for the losses. I take the blame for poor leadership. I failed them as coach in these games and practices leading up to the games.
In some respects I have accepted this responsibility without realizing it consciously. We have restructured practices. I have begun to adjust strategy, lineups, and how we operate as team. Consequences for not being a team player have become more extreme. As a leader I am responsible for strategy, tactics, motivation, and properly communicating how things will be done. As a leader it is also my job to make the tough calls to eliminate the underperformers that hurt the overall success of the team.
Reflecting on what it really means to lead is hard. To put the ideas down in a post is difficult let alone executing and taking the job head on and doing it well.
You cannot make a person do anything they don’t want to do. You can’t make people listen. You can’t make people execute your ideas. You can’t make people do anything they don’t want to do.
But you can lead them.
I have sat in on more conversations with people where it goes something like this, “I lead/coached/taught them, but they did not perform what I asked. I lead them and if they would just listen to me……”
That is not leadership. Well, it is but it is ineffective leadership.
I am taking the blame for failing to lead in the games we lost. I have reflected on what I am going to do differently and what other people need to do differently. More importantly, I am focusing on how we will execute to attain our goals.
As a player, the same challenge rests on your shoulders. A team cannot rely solely on a coach to lead. There has to be a captain. Who will it be? Who is willing to step up and lead the team in huddles, practices, game situations? Who is tough enough to take the team on their shoulders and lead them to victory? This is the missing ingredient in most teams. I have seen many athletic and capable teams fall to the wayside because they lacked leadership. It is hard. It is not fun. It is not easy.
It is necessary.
Leadership is the single greatest factor in any team’s performance. Whether your team fails or succeeds comes down to the leader(s).
There are no bad teams, only bad leaders.
Think on that…….
My biggest AHA moment of my reading this weekend was this statement
Things have changed in practice. Things have changed in games. They will continue to change because as I learn to take further ownership of my leadership abilities I have to remind myself of this statement.
We talk each day at practice about life, skills, and the mindset needed to be successful. I preach a good game. I was also too tolerant. As I have cleaned up this part of my coaching things have changed and I look forward to the remainder of the season.
Substandard performance will have consequences — both on the court and the classroom.
I challenge you to no longer be a “tortured genius”. Someone who blames the rest of the world for all the mistakes and wrongdoing because they can’t see how brilliant they are.
Instead step up and take ownership. I challenge someone to rise up to be a leader. At the end of the day it is pretty simple:
Be a leader. Be effective. Don’t just say it, be about it.