I really enjoyed coaching my sons’ hockey teams. I have a lot of great memories.
One memory in particular comes from a challenge I had in the first year of my high school coaching career.
It was near the first of the season and I was filling in for the head coach, who was out for health reasons.
I was having a hard time connecting with some of the players, which makes it hard to coach if you don’t have their respect.
So one game, we were either tied or down by a goal and I needed a last-ditch-effort play to see if we could pull out a win. I called a time out and setup a play with one of the players who was a fast skater – and who I was having a hard time connecting with.
I asked him to setup outside the face-off circle and, once the puck was dropped, skate quickly up the ice and look for a pass because it was coming hard.
We won the face off, he took off like a flash, we got him the puck, and he scored!
I think I was amazed as much as I was excited…
As he came back to the bench, I congratulated him on his play – and he looked up and said, “You called it!”
What a great feeling for two reasons: 1) We ended up winning and, 2) I established a connection with the players, making it easier to coach from that point forward.
Thinking back, the key to the entire event was that I lifted up a player in front of others (without embarassing him)…and eventually got lifted up myself from the same player after it was over.
Organizational leadership works similar.
Sometimes we get thrown into a mess, where there are hard feelings and a “history” that we need to deal with – and it may have nothing to do with us but we inherited it, so…
If you’re in a mess and having a hard time building trust:
1) Pick an employee with a particular set of skills that can be used to improve the organization somehow
2) Assign a piece of work to the employee that will make them stand out
3) When the employee nails it, treat the staff to a coffee break or something, and share the win as a team
4) and then rinse and repeat… 😉
Leadership isn’t easy…but it’s necessary.