I have been playing soccer for many years now (too many to count). Through all of these years I have played for and seen a variety of coaches. And I can tell you that not all coaches are created equal.
So what makes one coach excellent and another mediocre? Let me tell you the story of a coach I once knew; we will call him Fred.
Fred was known to be a very technically savvy coach who really knew the game and seemed to understand the best tactics on the field. For many years Fred coached a winning team.
They won because he had created a system that was built on not losing rather than a system built on winning. Think about what this means. What does that look like on the field of play?
It means that he built a very defensive game strategy where no goals would go in but on the reverse very few goals were put into the others teams’ net.
So what is wrong with this system you may ask? Well many problems arise from this game strategy:
- You are never fully developing your complete game strategy and therefore only working on the talents and capacity of half your team.
- You can only go so long before other teams figure out your “one” strategy.
- A defensive strategy forces you to always respond to the other team’s style of play. Therefore, you become a follower and not a leader.
- Your team members only learn one style of play and can only react to one formula. Creativity is not encouraged or promoted.
So what was the long term result of this style of coaching? Over the long term this “winning” team started to see more and more losses. Why you ask? Well as the game got more sophisticated and the competition more intense the players were not able to adapt and respond accordingly.
The coach also never adapted the strategy nor did he unleash the creative potential and capacity of each player. The sad news was that most of these players were never invited to play for higher level teams because other coaches deemed Fred’s players “uncoachable” and “inadaptable” to other styles of play.
Fred’s early day success ended up leading to the long-term “failure” of the team and its individual players.
So what does this have to do with leadership and organizations? Well, like a coach, a leader needs to be able to lay out and adopt strategies that are not short sighted but that take a long term view.
Like a good coach a leader also needs to be able to set an overall strategy but then let his “players” use their creativity and talents to make it happen in the way that they think best. If a leader tries to calculate every person’s move and action then innovation and creative “play” cannot occur.
Also, if there is no overall strategy set out by the coach/leader then you can imagine the chaos that can occur on the field. Players will run around like headless chickens literally chasing the ball around rather than having a clear strategy and action plan.
The leader like the coach has to provide a game plan that is clear and concise yet leaves enough room for creative expression. A successful leader/coach also knows how each position connects to the other to make for a fully optimized and capable team.
As a leader you must make the necessary connections in your organization and create strategies and/or actions that are not strictly “defensive” to optimize and ignite the full capacity of your organization.
So don’t be a Fred! As a leader make sure that your game strategy is complete and that you have put in motion actions and strategies that are not piecemeal but fully connected and aligned for long-term success.
How complete and well defined is your game plan? Call the Pillars today to “up your game.” For more information on how The Pillars can help you develop your overall game plan.
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