The various football leagues in Europe have completed their seasons and some teams have performed very well. Real Madrid defeated Liverpool in the Champions League to win the ultimate trophy. Manchester City in England, Paris Saint Germain in France, Bayern in Germany, AC Milan in Italy, and Real Madrid again in Spain have finished on top and are now the reigning champions in their respective leagues. Most coaches of these teams have delivered what was expected of them and will continue to do so.
Other teams did not fare as well. They either came up short of what was expected of them by the team owners and the fans, or even worse, they were relegated. For fans and team owners alike, it is time to blame someone. Somebody has to be held accountable. The consensus is usually this: Let’s fire the coach and try somebody else!
But is the team’s poor performance always only the coach’s responsibility? What makes a great coach?
In my point of view, there are three broad categories of coaches.
The first one is the autocratic type. It is the coach who says, “It’s my way or the highway!” And when talking to their players, the message is often, “I have been successful before or somewhere else operating this way, so here is what you are going to do.” They are often called on in the middle of the season when the team is performing poorly and something needs to be done before it is too late.
The problem with this type of coaching is it might work in the short term but not in the long run. The coach might be perceived as a wizard and will save the team from being relegated. But in the medium to longer run, the players will lose faith and are less and less motivated to only be executing what they are being told to do. The coach will move on when they will realize the magic is not there anymore, and they might leave behind a team which lacks cohesion.
The second category is the star player who, because of their past performances on the field and the aura they still have with the fans, is given the responsibility to coach the team. The logic is that they were a top performer, scored lots of goals, and was a leader…so all of that will translate into great coaching capabilities. The players on the team will respect them and the supporters will be patient with them because of their past on the field wearing our colors.
With this type of coaching, the issue is first that not every star player has the skills, competencies, or acumen to be a good coach. There might be a grace period shortly after the coach’s arrival but being a top performer does not make you necessarily a born coach. So, at best…it is a 50/50 bet.
And then there is the adaptive coach. One who will adapt their style to the various players they work with. Such coaches are not necessarily recognized gurus on tactics and game plans, but their dialog with the players is, “We are on this boat together.” Adaptive coaching relies on process and tools. They analyze data available on their opponents, their own team, and the individual player’s performances. They develop younger players and help them get to the big leagues. By being adaptive, they relate to the player who is being coached. Their style is not about giving instructions or simply demonstrating what to do, but the key to their success is their ability to motivate the change in behavior required to reach peak performance. The most effective coaches adapt the way they communicate to best reach the different personalities of each player. This is not done just by words, but also by actions.
Individuals who use adaptive coaching can recognize what motivates their players. Being aware of individual differences in athletes is an important ingredient in coaching excellence. Individualizing communication and motivation to specific athletes is vital to successful coaching. Paying attention to the players’ emotions, strengths, and weaknesses is the responsibility of a good coach. This type of coach will adjust their style to meet that motivation approach. This is what changes behavior, changes the performance of the person being coached, and that is, at the end of the day, the measure of a great coach.
By now you have guessed that we, at Revenue Storm, firmly believe that adaptive coaching is the most effective approach. The adaptive coaches are in the game but not on the field. Their skills and competencies are evaluated and developed. They have or need a process and tools to evaluate their team and motivate players, to get the individual players to express their talents, and to grow and develop as great performers.
Set up a regular time in your calendar to support your sales professionals with adaptive coaching sessions each week to focus on individual opportunities and plans. It will create a collaborative approach to sales planning and strategy between the coach and sales professional while also pinpointing areas of improvement to increase performance.