There are all sorts of coaches out there.
There’s the Sandbagger Coach: “My team is okay…we’ll be lucky if we’re above .500 this season.” Of course, they proceed to win the conference championship.
There’s the Eeyore Coach: “Recruiting was terrible, I’ve got no good players, and the best of this bad bunch just got hurt.” Self-fulfilling prophecy?
There’s the Over-The-Moon Coach: “My team is ready to win it all this year, go ahead and buy your tickets to the finals!” Even keeled isn’t in this coach’s vocabulary.
Where do I think I fall on the coach spectrum? I’m an optimist…for better or worse. It’s in my DNA to see the glass as half full rather than half empty. Of course, I will game plan to figure out a way to get the glass full instead of just half full…but I’m generally more positive than negative with my team. I suppose it’s a matter of perspective though. If you were to ask my team, they may think my “honest conversations about where they stand on the team” are really just me being mean.
Anyhoo, without the fear of the theoretical hammer being thrown down, how does an optimist inspire her team and get them to challenge themselves?
5 ways optimists can get the best from their teams
- Optimists overcome fear. As Winston Churchill once said, “optimists see opportunities in every difficulty.” Every team, no matter how successful, will face challenges. Helping our teams to overcome their fears and tackle those challenges is the major job of the optimistic coach.
- Optimists inspire their team. Optimistic coaches understand the power of their words. It’s our job to make our players see things in themselves and the future of the team that they wouldn’t have seen without our leading.
- Optimists rally the troops. This is just an opinion, but I think most folks rise and fall with the tide of their emotions. They played great…everything is awesome! They played poorly…everything is awful! The optimistic coach keeps the team level-headed and focused on the end goal instead of the day to day ups and downs of being on a team.
- Optimists see the big picture. I just heard about this and thought I’d share a quote here: We all need optimists in our lives to fight the recency effect. The recency effect is a psychological term that simply means the most recent experiences we go through are the ones we are likely to remember and we assume those experiences will continue into the future. It’s the idea that we’ve lost three games in a row…will we lose all of our games? Or, we’re on a roll…no one can stop us! The optimistic coach brings perspective to her team.
- Optimists make things better. Our players are looking to us for inspiration. Maybe it’s the player who plops down in your office and asks if she’s really got a shot to play. Or maybe it’s after a tough loss. Or maybe it’s when you’re about to face a team you’ve never beaten. The optimistic coach will give their players a vision of success in their mind’s eye.
I was inspired to write this post after reading, 5 Reasons Why Optimists Make Better Leaders, over at forbes.com. The season inherently has its ups and downs…I believe an optimistic coach can better guide her team through those treacherous waters.