The Denver Broncos are a championship team for a lot of reasons. Over the last several decades, they have made numerous trips to the Super Bowl led by great quarterbacks (John Elway and Peyton Manning, for instance). But any championship team will tell you that they couldn’t have done it without their coach. Championship coaches, whether they are leaders in sports, business, or in their homes, all leverage their position of leadership to lift others higher.
Experience has shown, and science has validated, that certain leadership behaviours consistently produce better results in the people being led. From my experience, here are the top five most powerful performance-enhancing leadership behaviours. (Feel free to substitute the word “coach” with leader, manager, supervisor or parent.)
- Championship coaches focus on their player’s STRENGTHS. Instead of focusing on every single thing their players do wrong, they encourage their players to improve upon their natural talents and abilities. Great coaches don’t ignore their player’s weaknesses; but they only discuss the critical things that are preventing their player from capitalizing on their strengths and accomplishing their goals. Championship coaches watch what their players do well and sometimes even change a player’s role on the team or give them different assignments to make sure they have the opportunity to do what they do best.
- Championship coaches inspire CONFIDENCE. Think about it. Do you know anyone who excels when they are insecure or demoralized? Of course not. Then why would any leader berate someone or nitpick them to death hoping to get better performance out of them? Just about everyone, in almost every situation, performs better when they are confident. Instead of rubbing player’s noses in their mistakes, championship coaches briefly ask their players what they learned from their mistakes, and then quickly turn their players’ focus to future possibilities. With every interaction they consciously try to leave their players feeling better about themselves and their potential.
- Championship coaches PRAISE good performance. When a player snags a difficult catch, their coach doesn’t say to themselves “Well they’re just doing their job, so why do I need to say anything.” No, great coaches know that ‘behaviour that gets praised, gets repeated’. This pearl of wisdom is the closest thing there is to a management panacea. Just try it. When someone you work closely with does something you would like them to do more often, praise them for it and see what happens. Odds are, they will begin doing it more often. Even if they come only slightly closer to what you want them to do, praise them for it and you’ll see their focus sharpen on the desired result.
- The greatest coaches give their players the AUTONOMY they need to love their work, and perhaps, occasionally allow them to fail. Few coaches can muster the discipline it takes to back off and refrain from critiquing or “helping” them in every aspect of their performance. However, championship coaches give their players the freedom to make significant decisions, enabling them to take ownership of the results. Poor coaches tell their players what to do in almost every situation which produces a “wait until told” mentality. These coaches are often bewildered as to why their players hesitate to act in certain situations, or don’t take the initiative more often.
- Great coaches have a RELATIONSHIP with their players. Their players know that their coach cares about them first, and winning second. In the business world, many managers believe that it’s not professional to have much of relationship with the people they oversee. This fatuous superstition has resulted in an overly clinical approach to management, and has produced workers who, in turn, have no loyalty to their manager or their employer.
Whether on the playing field, in the office, or at home, championship coaches avail themselves of their position of influence to lift others higher. In turn, their players are motivated to excel and will hoist their coach on their shoulders and carry them to victory.
Try these five performance enhancers for one week, and see the difference it makes in the people you lead.