Who Owns This Team, Anyway?

by Michael Riggs, M.Ed.

The days of “do it because I said so” coaching are long gone. One could validly argue that great coaches, from Bill Walsh to Pat Summitt to Joe Torre, never did employ the dictatorship philosophy, anyway. Today’s athletes are much more aware of their personal rights and reasons. Today’s athletes want to be treated as people first and are less likely to put up with a demeaning and tyrannical coach. Today’s athletes want to be treated fairly and respectfully. Today’s athletes have evolved.

blue seatsThe latest and greatest buzz word for teams and organizations these days is “ownership.” At its very core, ownership maintains that “something is mine.” And, when an individual owns something, be it large or small, he is more likely to work toward keeping and developing it. As coaches, one of the greatest challenges faced is guiding our players to develop and maintain a sense of self-development. After all, how good are we as coaches if our players only work hard when we are pushing them? How successful will we be if our players only perform when we are driving them?

Developing ownership within the team, for the team, and from the team will allow you, as coach, to focus on the bigger picture; strategizing to win.

So, how do the great ones do it? All great coaches involve their players, to some degree, in the design and implementation of the success strategy. There is no better question to ask a player than, “What do you want?” By inviting the player into the developmental process you are saying to him, “I respect your opinion. I want you to help us, and yourself, to become more than we are today. I want you to own both your individual success and failure and our team’s performance.”

It is such a simple concept, but most coaches tend to be caught up in their own storms that they do not take the time to engage the cogs of the machine in the ownership of its overall success.
As a result, excessive energy is wasted on punishment for non-adherence to team rules, never-ending “motivational programs,” and keeping the ship afloat, instead of winning the race.

For coaches that have the excessive need to control all facets of the program, you will have a very difficult time letting go of the reins and engaging your team in the process of development and success. Letting go is never an easy task. But, the long term benefits far outweigh the short term risks. After all, great teams work toward a common goal… not just your goal.

S² Tip

Include your players in decision-making processes to enhance their ownership of the results.

In Another’s Words…

“The biggest mistake we could ever make in our lives is to think we work for anybody but ourselves.”

– Brian Tracy, speaker

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