The 'Right School'
You know the ‘old school’ way, right? How would you describe it?
Tough? Challenging? Relentless? Adversity filled? Too bent on the negative, maybe? Unwilling to change? Expecting too much time? Too much commitment?
Before we get too consumed with passing off the old, gruff coach that seems so angry at the world, perhaps we should consider the wake he has left. Not the wins, though those are typically significant, but the scores of former players that come to his defense. We should also consider the upstanding human beings that credit that old, gruff coach with becoming the husband and father they now are.
It’s funny how consumed we are with the future, while quickly discounting the very behaviors that will truly benefit the future we hope for. Today we think of the ‘old school’ leaders as being out of touch with the future because they’re stuck in the past. The truth is, they’re the only leaders that really do care about the future.
We’ve been hogwashed (there’s an old school word for you) to believe that feeling better now will help you perform better later. New-age leadership wants to kill us with kindness, making sure we feel good in the moment - often at the expense of the future.
Leaders with an ‘old school’ mentality don’t drink that juice.
Why Should We Care?
I’m certainly not saying that everything associated with the ‘old school’ approach to leading is wonderful and shouldn’t be up for debate. However, there are some things that are being lost in the transition to new age coaching that are significant concerns.
Here’s a list of the top five things.
1. Avoiding adversity
Society is on a mission to remove challenges and adversity for people. Stop it. It’s not good for them. Facing and overcoming obstacles is good for us and those we lead. ‘Old school’ coaches know this and not only lean into when it comes around, but oftentimes they actively seek it.
2. Softening critical feedback
In an effort to preserve feelings and confidence, leaders now often soften their message of critical feedback so much, the person receiving the feedback completely loses his view of the standard. Clarity is critical. Just say it, clearly and directly. You never have to wonder where you stand and what you need to do better with an ‘old school’ coach. They make sure it’s crystal clear.
3. Prioritizing the individual over the team
In an era of trainers and job hopping, fewer and fewer people prioritize the team. If there is anything that all ‘old school’ leaders have in common, it’s that the team comes before the individual. Always. The new movement likes to act as if the individual and team are equally important - that we can have our cake and eat it too.
4. Looking for the minimum amount of work
Nowadays it seems as if people are looking to do the least amount of work possible to sustain the current level of performance. ‘Old school’ leaders don’t even consider work load, they simply believe that it takes what it takes. There is no barometer for the amount of work required, there is just what is required.
5. Compromising the little things
Punctuality is the first thing that comes to mind. It’s a non-negotiable for the ‘old school’ leaders. Early is on time and on time is late. Of course, it doesn’t end there. Many details have become more optional than required. We always get what we accept as a leader and what is accepted is certainly different between the ‘old school’ and new age mindsets.
REAL TALK - Action Steps
I’m not here to act like everything used to be great in the good ‘ol days and everything new is soft and useless. I don’t think that’s the case at all. Both have contributions to make to excellent leadership. Here are a few of the most important combinations:
Rather than thinking about the two camps of ‘new school’ and ‘old school’, we should be thinking of only one school: ‘right school’. And, ‘old school’ has a lot more in common with the ‘right school’ than most want to give it credit for.
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I'm a teacher, coach, and parent seeking excellence while defining success on my own terms.