Looking back over the last 30 years, I have been on an incredible learning journey, as a leader, coach, and educator. I have done some things well, and some things that I definitely would have done differently if given the chance. For me, I have difficulty distinguishing the difference between coaching, leading, and teaching, as they all have the common theme that they are about influencing others at a variety of levels—to help a person or a group get from where they are now to someplace new. I will often use the word “leader” interchangeably for the other words.
Over the course of my journey, there are two lessons that I like to keep at the forefront of my thinking. First, “it is not about you, it is about them.” My role is to create an environment that helps my players, students, and employees maximize their abilities to be successful. As leaders, we have a great opportunity to help people develop their own leadership competencies. These competencies are necessary for them to be successful in the world, in a variety of contexts. A quote from Dr. Harvey Schiller, former executive director of the U.S. Olympic Committee, provides a great context as you consider your role as a coach, educator, and/or leader of people: “Always remember the tremendous power you have as a coach (teacher/leader) to help another human being maximize their potential; pursue this awesome responsibility daily with intensity and integrity.”
The second lesson that I try to always keep in mind is that I am on a journey, just like the people around me. This journey is a never-ending process. It is recognizing that every day I have the opportunity to learn something new by reflecting on what I did or listening to my players, students, and employees. We all know people who think they have all the answers—unfortunately, as a wise colleague, once put it, they do not have the right questions. Once you know it all, it is no fun anymore. From my perspective, it will always be fun, because I know I will never reach the point of knowing it all. A key takeaway message is to keep in mind the important role that you play as a leader in the development of your players and to continuously reflect back on how you can improve your abilities to lead. Over the next few blogs, we will explore this journey further.