Driving in Atlanta, Nashville, Orlando, or any Major City… You know the value of the HOV Lane. The lane that stands for “High Occupancy Vehicle”. The lane that requires two or more passengers for use. The lane to the far left that always seems to have cars whizzing by others while in standstill traffic. You know the frustration of being stuck, in a hurry, all alone, and watching cars pass by. At those times, you wish other individuals were present to access the lane and get moving. This reminds me of the great lesson I learned early as a leader in the coaching profession. You feel bogged down with responsibility, trying to move forward, but keep hitting roadblocks. Feeling like it is time to really show your value and you must stand alone to prove it. Thinking to get something done then I must do it myself. The thought of people will not do it exactly the way I will. The thought of I cannot seek help because it could make me look weak in front of others….
My mindset was totally wrong and ultimately ego driven. This thought process makes other people feel like a subject or a number in the program. The result is that people become stagnant, unmotivated, feel micro-managed, and less valued. Staff members will go into the default mode of always agreeing because you never truly listen. Constant agreement gives the leader a wrong sense of togetherness, buy in, and loyalty. Frustration builds and your workload increases as people slowly drift from the mission. The truth is that no one person operates the exact same way as another. Everyone on my staff was chosen by me to be there. I chose them because they met our core values of Character, Competency, and Commitment. Each member possessed qualities to positively impact the program. I needed to place them in my vehicle and truly have them on the ride. Even though the leader is behind the wheel, you need opinions, ideas, and feedback to help direct the program. Everyone has a unique strength that can be specifically placed for value. If I want people that Highly Offer Value, then I need to understand that Humility Offers Value, Honesty Offers Value, and Hearing Offers Value. People needed to feel free to voice their opinion and ideas in a respectful way. I needed to respond to opinions in a respectful way or they may never give it again. There will always be some non-negotiables in leadership but people need freedom to operate within a given structure. None of us have all the answers and true program growth will never occur by people continually agreeing or becoming stagnant.
Today, all of our program decisions are ultimately driven by the program mission. It is my job to make sure that we keep our initiative in the right direction. Once we make a staff decision, everyone moves forward knowing that it serves the bigger purpose. I have learned that people driven by greater purpose trump issues with personal egos. Every coach has a process of evaluating and giving their honest opinion. Each staff member evaluates the 7 Program Areas and redefines all team expectations each season. Furthermore, they evaluate me as their leader and give honest feedback on how I can better serve our program. We have a saying that “We do not care where the idea comes from, the greatest value wins.” We discuss countless decisions as a staff to maintain the consistency and integrity our program demands. The program plan is the collective work of everyone and not my own. Our staff sets new program goals every season, strives for continual improvement, and seeks a standard of excellence. Our people are not an occupancy number but valuable and passionate difference makers. My job is to lead, support, develop, and give every resource possible for each coach to be successful. This creates the program snowball effect as we continually build upon each other. Our staff focuses on running a great program and knows that a great team will follow.
As you move forward, I want to encourage you with the following:
- Define the makeup of your vehicle with Core Values.
- Clearly communicate the mission.
- Humility Offers Value, Honesty Offers Value, and Hearing Offers Value.
- Give credit were credit is due.
- Respond respectfully when opinions are given respectfully.
- There is not a pecking order on ideas.
- No two people will do things exactly the same.
- Highlight strengths and empower impact.
- People with purpose trump issues with personal egos.
- Create the snowball effect.
“I love my guys, I love that we can be honest, I love that we work for one purpose, and I love that we do it together.”