I just finished reading Strengths Based Leadership by Tom Rath and Barry Conchie for the second time. When first published, the book was a NY Times bestseller. The book shares the results of a 30-year research project about leadership by the Gallup organization in Lincoln, Nebraska. The project studied one million work teams; conducted over 20,000 in-depth interviews with leaders and even interviewed 10,000 “followers” to ask why they followed the most important leader in their life.
As I read the book, I could not help but think that the results could apply directly to coaches. The reader simply replaces the term leader with the term coach and organization with team. As you read further we will use the terms coach and team.
The overall premise is that we all have strengths and weaknesses. The great coaches recognize these strengths and weaknesses. In this country we spend too much time trying to make a weakness a strength. I don’t think that is possible. I think we can make a weakness manageable, but seldom, if ever, a strength. As we work on our weaknesses we tend to ignore our strengths. Great coaches move from their strengths and hire others to take over areas of their weaknesses. But this is not easy. Looking in the mirror and honestly and accurately evaluating yourself is hard. We all think we are better than we really are. But until you identify your strengths and weaknesses you will not move forward as a coach (or as a person).
It is the same for players. Players should know their strengths and weaknesses and play to their strengths during games. They can work on their weaknesses in practice but in games they should only do what they can do! That is what the great players do. They don’t make mistakes. Mistakes usually happen when players try something new or something they can’t do in a game!!
What do the results of this research mean for a coach? Find the three (3) keys that emerged from this research at: fundamentalsoccer.com
Dr. Jay Martin
Editor, United Soccer Coaches “Soccer Journal”
(Formerly the NSCAA “Soccer Journal”)