What Youth Coaching Taught Me About Vision and Preparation

Coach talking with players - Leadership Resources

A successful coach isn’t always a game-winning coach. I’ve seen evidence of this up-close in all of my experience coaching youth sports, where our team might lose but each individual child comes out of the game with more experience, focus, and positivity. 

As a youth sports coach, this was always my goal: help each child feel like a winner, no matter what the scoreboard says. Over the course of my lifetime, I’ve played twelve sports, coached eight sports, and officiated nine sports. I’ve also been a spectator and a parent of a youth player.

My diverse sports background has taught me the importance of helping people find the untapped potential within themselves. I’ve also discovered the power of communicating in a clear, simple way that resonates with a wide variety of people: children, parents, youth coaches, spectators, and referees.

Just like in youth sports, business professionals appreciate having complex concepts boiled down into basic terms. When I was a youth coach, I created something called: The MODEL Coach Concept which I now see how applicable it is to business and aligns with EOS®

The MODEL Coach Concept

This concept has five main elements:

Mentally Prepares

Organizes

Develops Every Player

Encourages

Leads by Example

As you understand more about what each part of this concept means, you’ll see many parallels for business.

First, a coach must mentally prepare, which means they must have the right mentality for every game, every day, and every winning moment.  The same goes for every leader.  Successful leaders apply the EOS Five Leadership Abilities to help them mentally prepare: Simplify, Delegate (and Elevate), Predict, Systemize, and Structure.  

They must also have the organization it takes to get the most out of every coaching moment with the team. The overall EOS Process provides a variety of organization benefits through mastery of the EOS Toolbox Tools with a space learning approach. My favorite tool is the Issues Solving Track — a simplified approach to continuous improvement.

A great coach is focused on the development of every player, despite the fact that players develop and mature at various rates. The same goes for leaders living the EOS Process. It is hard to predict which team member has the most undeveloped talent. Work on clarifying expectations and challenging all team members to develop their natural talents, nurturing and coaching them along their journey.

A big dose of encouragement goes a long way too. Coaches must find ways to encourage and acknowledge players in a positive and productive way. Strong leaders apply the 24-hour rule when observing both desired and undesired behaviors with their team members. The observations are expressed within 24-hours of them occurring. This especially comes into play for the Core Values that warrant ongoing attention and appropriate reinforcement.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, there’s leadership by example. A coach sets the tone for everything that happens and this requires a huge amount of leadership, consistency, and follow-through on your promises. This is a direct correlation to the EOS tool, LMA (Leadership, Management, and Accountability), which also ties in nicely with the Five Leadership Abilities mentioned previously.

Envision Success and Focus on Small Things

Whether you’re gearing up for the big game or preparing for a business project, take some time to envision the future. Instead of just focusing on the win, focus on the things that are within your control – what you’ll win, even if you’re on the losing side. There can be periods of time a business is failing or struggling to hit its goals. Within the EOS Process, the Vision/Traction Organizer does a spectacular job simplifying the vision and goals of a business. This provides all team members with an opportunity to discover how they contribute to the success of the business, even in challenging times.

Now I know this sounds odd. Why would we focus on what we can control even while we’re losing?

When I coached football, I taught the players to envision scoring a touchdown. As they practiced the plays and made the movements on the field toward the end zone, they could focus on the amazing feeling of reaching it.

This is a way of building the muscle memory it takes to accomplish a goal. If you build a clear mental vision of what it takes to succeed, your mind and body are primed to get there. That’s so much more productive than simply listening to a coach drown on and on or watching other players run down the field. It’s also much more productive than always focusing on winning the big game.

Just like working as a team toward business goals, when muscle memory is built, everyone is more apt to attain goals for themselves and the collective organization as a whole. The second page of the Vision/Traction Organizer (Traction page), focuses on the shorter-term goals for the year, priorities for the current quarter, and sets aside certain issues for future consideration in the Issues List. It is just as important to know what is to be focused on, as well as what is not to focus on!

The EOS® Connection

In business, if you’re a leader and you don’t know what success looks like for your team, you won’t get there. You won’t know what you want from your team and they won’t know what you want from them. 

Learn more about Dan’s work and the Entrepreneurial Operating System now!

What Is The Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS)? Download this whitepaper.

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