Being Great: Coaches Who Inspire
Somewhere around 1975, Darrell Nutter and I met during a local track meet held at Granada Elementary School in Phoenix, Arizona. Coach Nutter approached me following the afternoon’s events to compliment my ability as a sprinter and invite me to practice with the Valley of the Sun Track Club, a women’s AAU team for which he held a coaching position.
As I reflect on that day, his invitation opened a door to opportunities and the development of my yet untapped talent both on and off the field. Over the next several years, Coach Nutter groomed and inspired me to accomplish things never dreamed of. He expected a lot, but never more than he was willing to give. He had several wonderful gifts: 1) to communicate the way I needed to hear things; 2) he set an example of full commitment to the task at hand (finish what you start); and, 3) he could whistle in harmony!
As we travelled to meets from Arizona to New Mexico or California, often the air was filled with the sound of a roaring bus engine, and Coach Nutter whistling his tunes. Later in life as I pursued careers and fulfilled dreams, I realized that much of what I had accomplished to that point was directly due to his teachings so many years prior. When I think of determination, focus, and persistence, Coach Nutter certainly knew how to plant seeds inspiring life-long success. His mark of inspiration came by way of the phrase ‘personal best’. A phrase held dear and chanted often in my thoughts to this day.
“Coaching is a profession of love. You can’t coach people
unless you love them.”
– Eddie Robinson
Who Are The Coaches That Inspire Us At Work?
Day in and day out they arrive early, stay late, have the ability to stop mid-sentence to make eye contact with a smile or a nod, and listen to what we have to say. Great coaches are masters in the art of acknowledgement, and are willing to take immediate action when able. “Great idea! I appreciate how excited you are. Let’s take this to the team to flesh it out. Why don’t’ we pull everyone together and meet in five—work for you?” Great coaches nurture potential and understand what is needed to create opportunities within an organization to further develop skill, foster innovation, share and collaborate on ideas, all the while launching quickly concepts and new found talents to produce winning results. Great coaches inspire people to grow.
Ability and Commitment
Great coaches are the men and women in the organization we come to rely on as they weave a fabric of cohesiveness. They communicate well with those they report to, and effectively develop and guide well those who report to them. Great coaches also possess the triad of leadership; an ability to overcome the deluge of daily distractions, remaining committed to a focus on themselves, their team, and the world around them. In Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence Author and Psychologist Daniel Goleman details further why attention and focus are mental assets in star leader performers.
How Great Coaches Stay So Great
When you are part of a successful team you know how powerful a great coach can be. It’s a privilege to be coached by someone who encourages team members by giving them new challenges to grow, and inspires each to reach their personal best. Here are nine things great coaches do to stay so great while inspiring others:
- Demonstrate Bravery – A great coach stands up for what is right, and stands behind those who share the vision. Through hard or lean times, a coach remains loyal even when it appears the team will fall short or lose.
- Act With Integrity – A great coach does what they say they will do, they are reliable and trustworthy. Even when no one is watching, they do the right thing.
- Take Responsibility – A great coach owns up to both good and bad situations. They know how to speak up before being found out, and will never throw others under the bus.
- Foster Creativity – A great coach endures the creative process in hatching ideas. They allow things to happen in a relaxed atmosphere.
- Accept Failure – A great coach recognizes that with advancement comes some failure along the way. They know that trial and error are the stepping stones to success.
- Is Compassionate – A great coach encourages people to not give up. They help others realize their efforts are appreciated, and to try again.
- Recognize Accomplishments – A great coach will spotlight when others improve skills, or the team wins an award. They recognize that every accomplishment is worth some recognition.
- Engage With Interest – A great coach takes interest in the lives of others. They make time to ask questions, listen to a response, and foster a genuinely safe communication environment.
- Show First and Tell Later – A great coach rolls up their sleeves to perform tasks, takes part in walking meetings, sets the tone for professional conduct, and will post informative relevant blogs and data via media channels to help the team learn or complete tasks.
Inspiring Others In The World
Some look for inspiration around every corner. The great people watchers of the world sit for hours taking in the visuals of life—they are moved by it all. Others seek inspiration by searching the internet, reading a favorite author, or gardening. The fact of the matter is inspiration is all around us. The question becomes, what are you looking for and why? Maybe it’s time to connect with people we haven’t met yet? Maybe it’s time to get out of our chair, walk next door to our neighbors house and knock! Maybe it’s time for all of us to be the inspiration, lead by example–become a great coach!