Kevin D. Horton
“Success consists of daily victories.”
-John C. Maxwell
Change happens when a person becomes aware that the way things have been needing to be different. Sometimes, this awareness occurs on a daily basis. A part of change may be that leaders inspire it or encourage it to repeat. One may reflect on those who have been in leadership roles in one’s life, and one may discover that those leaders have not always been active. Leaders should demonstrate qualities that stand above what one might expect to find in everyday interactions. Guidance, patience, and understating are three of the core leadership qualities that are most important.
One role that requires leadership skills is coaching. There is always a player inside a coach. Coaching basketball is an experience that can shape one’s view about the impact you can have on people’s lives as a leader. Sometimes, people who are leaders want to be correct in every situation as they step in to guide and lead the group. However, that is not the best approach, especially in coaching. A successful coach must join with the players. You must draw on your own experiences in playing the game to help guide others.
Guidance is a central factor in being a successful coach, being sure not to give commands only; instead, to offer suggestions, direction, and constructive critical feedback. Sometimes guidance can come from the knowledge that a person gains in recent experiences with capable leaders. There is a sort of perpetuation of leadership as one uses knowledge to inspire others. Guidance helps players be more prepared when situations come up in games. It is essential to learn to adjust and approach the game mentally and not let choices be emotionally driven. Guidance may include pulling players to the side to correct their approach, or to help with what could change the outcome of the situation.
If a player cannot think, then a player cannot play basketball; thus, much of coaching is teaching players how to think. Encouraging and thoroughly preparing players for mental and physical exercise has become the biggest asset to our coaching system and essential for leaders/coaches. Guidance off the court is as valuable as it was on the court. Being able to guide one’s self is at the center of steering others. One must be acutely aware of one’s strengths and challenges.
Patience to want to coach and lead is another foundational element of effective leadership. Taking control and dictating to others is not the most efficient thing to do. Tasks should be approached with patience. One must take the time to assess and analyze options and approaches. People should be able to voice onions, but also to take criticism to make changes.
Sometimes, as a coach, one must allow players to make mistakes to learn. Hands-on can serve as the best approach for younger generations. Walking step by step through situations inspires growth. In the end, the coach/leader is not trying to get people to do what he or she would do; instead, the coach/leader is acting with patience as each player and the team finds the best ways of doing things. Many times, outside issues creep into practices and games, and the coach must be aware of the impact on the team. Patience is key to helping the players and teamwork through challenges. When patience wears thin, one must rely on understanding.
Leaders should value understanding. There cannot always be predictability in any situation, and one must be prepared to be flexible. Things often happen on a daily basis that shift the dynamics of a job. One example of this is academic performance when working with a school team. The coach/leader must be understanding of the multiple demands on the team members, including the requirements of the classroom. An ineffective leader may merely demean the players if they were struggling with their school work. A more useful leader would show understanding and help work on ways to find success. While frustrating, when one engages intelligence in challenging situations, in the end, the case is often more efficiently resolved.
Skills of guidance, patience, and understanding must be part of a practical approach to leadership. If one approaches a leadership role without these skills, one may find that an individual or the team never reaches an optimal ability to reach its potential. Mistakes will be made, and choices will be questioned; that is part of the process. No leader can always be correct, but a leader must accept change and look forward to becoming the best leader possible.