The unexpected benefits of coaching kids
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Coaching youth sports can be as challenging as it is rewarding. For the last seven years I've had the opportunity to be involved with an elite baseball club, the North Shore Twins. As an assistant coach, I've worked extensively with our 16U Junior Twins team passing along lessons and knowledge to kids with huge goals and aspirations. It's allowed me to stay involved in something I'm passionate about and has provided an opportunity to give back to a community that played such a large role in my more impressionable years. But, I've gotten so much more out of the experience than I ever could have hoped. Done selflessly, coaching molds better leaders, developing tools and characteristics transferable to the workplace. Each year I've become a better coach and a better leader. Here’s what I've learned from the kids year after year.
Talk less, listen more
We've all experienced micromanagement somewhere in our lives—that manager who doesn't inspire thought or provide feedback, but instead simply believes in process. Active listening is one of the most undeveloped skills available to us, yet critical in order to be present and authentic. As a coach, active listening allows for a greater opportunity to connect with players, leading to more trusting and open conversations. Most importantly, I can gather a better understanding of how a player may interpret something we've talked about, allowing us the chance to work together and create a clearer path to our goals. Which leads me to the next point …
Ask why, don't tell how
One of the most rewarding moments of coaching is letting a player figure something out on their own. There’s nothing more satisfying than leading them with thoughtful questions and watching an inquisitive look turn to one of confidence when everything suddenly makes sense. Players, like colleagues, will rarely excel when treated like the cogs of a machine. There's an irrefutable difference between knowing how and understanding why. The sense of empowerment comes along with the latter.
“A word of encouragement during a failure is worth more than an hour of praise after success.” —unknown
Connect daily activities with long term goals
The basis for increasing a batting average or delivering more strikes to the plate is no different than increasing sales or operational efficiency. It doesn't happen overnight. It rarely comes without grit. And it certainly never comes if we are constantly changing focus. Long-term goals require a clear, shared vision and micro-goals along the way to the final destination. In baseball, as in business, it can mean deconstructing a process entirely, or spending weeks on one small adjustment. Chances are it’s going to feel uncomfortable at first, or there will be some failure along the way—but maintaining a long-term vision and supporting the team or individual will ultimately lead to newfound success.
Motivate and inspire
Truly the simplest traits a leader can employ. It doesn't mean one needs to rehearse Any Given Sunday's "Peace with Inches" (although it wouldn't hurt). It means showing up every day with both the attitude and commitment to success that you expect from those around you. It means leading by example. Off days most certainly arise, and sometimes we have to fake it for our players and our colleagues, but morale is just as important in the office as it is on the field. Leaders need to celebrate successes, generate enthusiasm, and take charge.
Note: Don't be afraid to find out what motivates each person individually. Some love public displays, others a bag of sunflower seeds. Coaching on the baseball field has undeniably enhanced my leadership in the office. I know this from the feedback I've received, the stronger relationships I've built, the results I've achieved, and the excitement I've felt while elevating others and witnessing their success.
Moral of this article? Get out in your community and make time to coach your passion. You'll be amazed at how much you'll grow as a person and a leader.
This story was originally published on Matt Council’s website, which you can view here.