It’s National Coaches Week…!  Actually, I had no idea until my FB thread lit up about it on Monday.  And, even if it isn’t – then I officially proclaim it to be.

I often use sports analogy in seminars which I facilitate – especially with Managers.  Has anyone ever thought about the similarities between a highly functioning organization and a successful coach and their program (okay, okay, I know the answer is ‘’uhhh, no’’, but hear me out).

Jim Collins’ wrote a book called Good to Great – which basically talks about how organizations move from being good to great.  Besides all the business mumbo jumbo (which I find fascinating, which will more than likely bore you all), he describes how companies which are considered to be great, are lead by Level 5 Leaders.  What makes a Level 5 leader?  Well, they are considered to be unique because they are all humble and have a strong professional will towards excellence.   Talk about a paradox!

A good Coach will make his riders see what they can be rather than what they are.

A good Coach will make his riders see what they can be rather than what they are.

How is this any different than in sport?  Well, very simply, it isn’t. According to Collins there are five attributes that all Level 5 Leaders possess:

  1. They are self-confident enough to set up their successors for success.
  2. They are humble and modest.
  3. They have unwavering resolve.
  4. They display a workmanlike diligence.
  5. They give credit to others for their success and take full responsibility for poor results.

The very best coaches get their students to believe in themselves and instill an air of confidence (a lot of the time which the rider didn’t even know existed.)   There is a motivation to entertain ideas which the rider didn’t even think was do-able.  What seemed unattainable a year or two ago, is now knocking on your door.  They slowly, quietly and methodically build confidence to the point where something which was terrifying, is no longer a big deal…and the rider didn’t even realize what had happened.

It's a two way street...we sent this to our coach the second we found out he had won his division at a recent Horse Trial...! So proud of him!

It’s a two way street…we sent this to our coach the second we found out he had won his division at a recent Horse Trial…! So proud of him!

The very best coaches are hands down great communicators. Being able to communicate effectively in a language which a rider can understand (You want me to engage my core…but not tighten my a**?  And how am I supposed to do that exactly??!), is a pure art form.  The very best coaches take the time to listen and to understand where their riders are coming from.

The very best coaches have a way about them which makes the rider want to succeed and make them proud – for them.  That is when the coach will turn around and say “I want you to succeed and be proud not for me, but, for you.”

The very best coaches dare you to be better than you ever were before and help you along that path.

The very best coaches are able to teach a group of riders, at the same time, who are at different levels, on horses who have different personalities, and not have it be a packaged deal.  They don’t come with a ‘well, this is how we do this’ mantra.  Rather, they come with a ‘let’s start here and see what we need to change as we move through’.  To have an eye for a horse and rider and know how each pair needs to be coached is a highly desirable skill.

The very best coaches are quick to share with you all the trouble and mess ups they have gone through…and then are just as quick to share how they dealt with it and how they learned from it.

The very best coaches are your biggest fans.

The very best coaches are your biggest fans.

The very best coaches, will tell you to give your head a shake when you need it. They rein you back in when you get ahead of yourself . Although you might not like it when they do, it is being done for a reason…to set you up for success and not failure. They will tell you to shut-up, sit tight, look up, breathe out, lock on and get to the other side. Oh, and always always always, MORE LEG!!!

The next time you have the opportunity to watch your coach teach someone else – sit, watch and listen.  Watch horse and rider through the lesson – by the end, you should see a noticeable difference….and smiles on both the horse’s and rider’s faces.  That makes a good coach.

The very best coaches celebrate your highs, give you an ass kicking when you deserve it and stick by your side during the lows.

Most importantly, the very best coaches are your biggest fans.

On a personal level – thank you to my coach – Andy Amato – it is through your guidance,  patience, knowledge, passion and belief in me that makes me never ever want to give up.

Because of you, we don't give up. Thank you.Because of you, we don’t give up.  Thank you.

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