When coaching and management skills intersect

January 19, 2011

How do you know you have a good coach? I believe it’s when you can take the lessons you’ve learned from him or her off the athletic field and into life.

I was lucky to have a great coach influence my life early on. I showed up to tennis practice two weeks before my freshman year of high school with a racket I found in my garage and no real business being there. Over the next few months, Coach J patiently taught us the basics of our game, how to work as a team, how to learn from our mistakes, and how to push harder to get results.

Hmmm, sound familiar? Perhaps what you want your employees to bring to their jobs?

I was reminded of the lessons Coach J taught me when I saw the Star-Ledger’s story today about Jets coach Rex Ryan and his, shall we say, unique team management style. They take a look at his coaching techniques and look at how they would work in the business world, or if they would at all. Honesty? Yes. Being forthright? Yes. Always being yourself? Yes. Employees aren’t dumb. They know when they’re being lied to, when something is fishy, or when you’re putting on a front.

The story points out that Ryan takes a lot of business personally, which I admit I am also guilty of. Just because a client doesn’t like something I’ve written doesn’t mean he doesn’t like ME, and sometimes I have a hard time remembering that. And, of course, Ryan’s penchant for swearing wouldn’t last very long in the boardroom.

That brings me back to Coach J. Was he honest and forthright? Yes, but when he had something to say we wouldn’t like, he could tell us in a kind way. Was he anything but himself? No — I can still remember how he would burst into song or tell bad jokes. Competitive spirit? Absolutely. He’d be the loudest one on the sidelines, cheering us on, encouraging us to do our best.

I remember the best compliment Coach J gave to me, when I was feeling overwhelmed with the nuances of the game and outmatched by upperclasswomen. “You never go through the motions,” he said. “You always work hard, and I can tell.” When you have a great leader, you always want to do your best for them. Coach J — and to some extent, Coach Ryan — can do that.

This post is brought to you by the good folks at Dale Carnegie Training of Central & Southern New Jersey. We would love to connect with you on Facebook and Twitter @CarnegieJersey.

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