Break it Down

Break it Down

I love Will Guidara's advice to new managers, "don't cannonball".  I realize people want to make a good impression, and prove their value, however to me there is a two-part process.  First, do your homework.  Second, set a clear vision for what you WANT your leadership to mean to others.  I.e., put some thought into what it means for them to be a part of your team.

For me, when I started with Tee-ball, I knew I had a bunch of young kids that knew nothing about the game.  They would be energetic, but their parents would also have tremendous anxiety.  Every player comes with a clan attached, a group of people vested in their success, be it parents, grandparents, or friends.  Someone has to get them to practice, games, and pay for their uniforms.  Each player is, in essence, a team.

I was building a team of teams.  I see it in a very similar way in business.  Every employee comes with relationships attached.  And it is hard for the people connected to your players to be invested in something they have little to control over.  The stories of little league parents are legendary, and not in a good way.  As a coach, parents can be your worst nightmare, OR your greatest asset.  Therefore, I wanted to make "my parents" comfortable and confident their player would have a good experience as part of my team.  I made them "my" parents.  I expanded my idea of team to include them, making "them" my responsibility.

I also knew that the players would need direction. I wanted them to bring enthusiasm and energy.  In exchange, I would direct them in a positive way.  But how to convey all of this quickly?  I created a Team Handbook, something the players and their parents could see and touch and read when they joined the team.  I told them everything that was in it (because only one in 10 would actually read it) however, it was a tangible totem of an invisible commitment. It defined the expectations we would have for each other.  That's right, I wanted them to know what to expect from me, but also what I expected from their players, and from them.

Moral of the story: Set expectations for the people you lead in BOTH directions. And don't forget the invisible members of your team.  Include them too. Strong relationships are reciprocal.

(Note in the picture.  Behind every player, probably closer than you think, is someone invested in their success.)