Unique Leadership Style
There’s no one path to becoming a leader. Unique backgrounds bring unique strengths.
When it comes to leadership, however, there’s no one path to the top. Even among a fairly narrow section of top leaders — professional sports coaches – we see a range of backgrounds.
Just as there’s no single ideal path to leadership, there’s no single ideal style of leadership, either. Each leader brings her own unique strengths — strengths that stem from her background and personality.
So don’t forget to look to your background for inspiration, even if it’s unconventional.
There’s no one style that makes for effective leadership, but all good leaders are resilient.
There’s no single leadership style that is better than all the rest. All great leaders, however, possess a handful of crucial skills — and foremost among them is resilience.
Even if your setbacks don’t make the national news, they’ll still be challenging. You’ll need personal resilience to get back on your feet. Once you’ve picked yourself up and dusted yourself off, however, you’ll have to take the next step: learning from the setback. All leaders face failure — but great leaders know that each failure is an opportunity for growth and learning.
Great leaders are also always striving to adjust and meet the needs of their team. Look at cricket coach Gary Kirsten, who learned how to use a softer touch with struggling players to help build stronger relationships in the long run. Strong relationships like these are essential in helping your team bounce back when they’re down.
Clear core principles will help guide you when it’s time to make difficult decisions.
When everyone aligns behind a shared philosophy, team members will know what’s expected of them, and leaders will be able to make better decisions.
Coaches aren’t gurus, after all, and sometimes we go too far in attributing a team’s success to a single coach. But having a set of guiding principles is important, and goes a long way toward building a culture that supports a team’s quest for success.
When things are difficult and leaders need to make decisions, their core principles will help them make good choices and explain their reasoning to others.
Set long-term goals and make sure everyone’s actions are aligned with them.
What do you want to accomplish today? What about tomorrow? What about a month from now? How about five years from now?
These aren’t just thought exercises; great leaders need to know the answers to these questions and make sure that their teams know them as well.
To succeed, people need to know not only what they are trying to accomplish and how to accomplish it, but also why it matters.
A 2001 study of the world’s most successful teams across several different sports concluded that what set them apart was simple enough:Each team had a clear, long-term organizational goal that informed its short-term decisions. This “why” was powerful enough to keep these organizations among the top-ranked in their respective leagues for 20 years.
But just laying out a shared goal isn’t enough — leaders need to make sure it guides the day-to-day actions of their organizations, too. Bigger goals are made up of multiple smaller goals.
informal conversations are a great way to make sure people know where they’re headed and make minor adjustments as needed. To reach a big goal, sometimes you need to think small.
Identify “cultural architects” and make sure they’re engaged.
When assessing a new team, coaches look for players who are respected by their teammates. Norwegian sports psychologist Willi Railo calls these respected individuals “cultural architects,” because they set the tone for their peers. A team will follow the example set by cultural architects, so a new leader should seek to win these people over by communicating well and establishing trust.
Relationships are everything here; it’s all about finding the motivation that works best. Soccer manager Roberto Martinez explained his tactic thus: when trying to win over influential older players, he’ll emphasize his willingness to help them shoulder more responsibility and influence younger players. For Martinez, this is an effective way to build trust, and the new challenge is a source of motivation for these experienced players.
Surround yourself with people willing to question you and suggest changes.
It’s important to remember that nobody can run an organization alone. Behind every great leader is a support staff of trusted advisors and assistants. If you want to be a great leader, you should seek out assistants who are as smart and driven as you. Remember: you’re only as good as the people around you.
Sure, yes-men may make you feel good, but they don’t make for stronger organizations. A leader should trust her assistants, all of whom should feel an obligation to ask questions and propose new ways to accomplish shared goals.
Michael Maguire, for example, says that he wants his staff to challenge him because he knows he’ll make mistakes. Cricket coach Gary Kirsten feels the same — for him, leadership is about ensuring his staff feel comfortable expressing themselves and bringing in different ideas. Don’t regard dissent as a challenge to your authority. Allowing it is, in fact, a sign of strength.
When delivering bad news, honesty is the best policy.
always makes sure to give bad news in person, in a private setting, with time for the player to respond.
By removing people who don’t meet the standard, a coach reaffirms the organization’s core values and commands respect from other players.
Looking at some of the world’s top coaches teaches us lessons in leadership that can be applied in many different settings. Set clear long-term goals, but don’t forget to check in with team members and assistants on a day-to-day basis; building good relationships will help you identify any required adjustments.
Use short-term tasks to achieve long-term goals.
You can’t arrive at your destination if you don’t know where you’re going. Write down what you want to accomplish in the long run, then start thinking short-term: What can you do over the next few days or weeks to make that a possibility? With your long-run goal in mind, you’ll have a better idea of what you need, and you’ll be motivated to keep going.