To Confront or Not Confront
I think there are two ways to approach leading or coaching a team:
Neither approach is perfect.
By minimizing disruption and challenge we are inherently ignoring issues that also limit the level of performance the team is capable of. By bringing these disruptions to the surface, we also increase the risk of not being able to move past them.
Here’s a simple example from our current team: watching film to prepare for our next opponent.
The program we use for film tracks the number of minutes each player watches. Early in our season we had a couple of big wins but our players were not preparing through film study to the level that is expected in our program.
Thus, the question of whether or not to address the lack of film study became a topic of conversation among our coaches. The results were clearly “good” in terms of our team’s play to that point, why rock the boat? Minimizing disruption would mean ignoring the issue since it wasn’t having a negative impact on the result right now and may never have. Afterall, everyone is different and each person’s need for preparation varies. I mean, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right?
The argument for surfacing the issue was simply based on the standard of preparation established in our program. Not watching film in our program was not acceptable because it had the potential to compromise your performance. Compromising your individual performance threatens to compromise our collective performance. It points to a selfishness that has the potential to hurt the team and arrogance that ultimately hurts the individual.
This decision is one of the major cruxes of leadership:
My only advice: confront more.
Why Should We Care?
Considering the example above regarding our players' preparation through film study, the decision of whether or not to confront the behavior becomes simple as soon as we clarify what we are trying to achieve. We prefer the term excellence rather than success, but defining success is critical to making this decision.
If winning, for example, is success then not watching film is perfectly acceptable as long as the results are not compromised. If losing ever comes to the table, then we can revisit the behaviors that could be contributing to the loss.
On the other hand, if creating excellence in our habits is success then not watching film to prepare to the best of your ability is absolutely a behavior that must be addressed regardless of the outcome of the game. Ignoring the responsibility to prepare shines a light on a lack of humility that makes excellence impossible. Without humility we don’t see the need to work. And, without work excellence is not an option.
By creating clarity around success, we simplify decisions and create a filter of authenticity. Without a clear understanding of what success looks like to us, we become victims of our emotions and slaves to our circumstances.
REAL TALK - Action Steps
Since the answer to confront or not confront is contingent on our definition of success, here are a few ideas on defining success on your terms rather than simply accepting the societal definition of fame, fortune, and status.
Confrontation is never easy. Leadership isn’t supposed to be. Opportunities to confront behaviors within our teams are numerous daily. The sooner we stop ignoring and start confronting, the sooner we realize the potential of our teams, and ourselves.
For more information on building excellence in your teams, visit us at www.bluecollargrit.com.
We would love to know how we could help!
I'm a teacher, coach, and parent seeking excellence while defining success on my own terms.