“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?” Alice asked of the Cheshire Cat as she stood at a fork in the road. He quickly responded, “That depends a good deal where you want to go.” After informing him that she did not have any idea where to go, the cat replied with a grin, “Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.”
Management consultant and educator Ken Blanchard (2007) uses this classic exchange to illustrate the importance of having direction and vision. As coaches, it is hard to always know which direction to lead athletes and programs. However, as the leader of the team you must decide the direction to lead your team via your coaching vision.
The first step in understanding your vision as a coach is to develop what Blanchard calls your Leadership Point of View (LPOV). This LPOV is similar to a coaching philosophy and allows you to explore how you began coaching, your overall purpose in coaching, and how you illustrate that purpose in the way you interact with others.
To develop your LPOV, you should think about the following questions:
- Who are the influencers (leaders) in your life who have had a positive (or in some cases negative) impact on your life? What did you learn from these people about leadership and coaching? (Examples could be parents, teachers, or coaches.)
- Think of your overall purpose. What do you want to accomplish in coaching? (Examples could be to lead, motivate, encourage, or teach.)
- What are the core values that will guide your behavior as you attempt to coach? (Examples could be fairness, competition, commitment, or success.)
- Given what you have learned from past leaders, your overall purpose, and your core values, what are your beliefs about leading and motivating people?
- What can your athletes expect from you? (Examples could be preparation, teaching, attention to detail, or support.)
- What do you expect from your athletes? (Examples could be commitment, hard work, or initiative.)
- How will you set an example for your athletes? (Examples could be model leadership, provide ultimate support, or display fairness in decisions.)
(adapted from Blanchard, 2007)
Reflecting honestly on these questions concerning your experiences with past leaders, purpose for coaching, and coaching values is critical to your success.
- If you are a novice coach, take time to think about the above questions. I would suggest writing down your answers to make them more credible and long lasting. Then, you can reflect on them again at the end of the season or when you are struggling.
- If you are a coach who is struggling, review your answers to these questions. Often, when coaches have conflict or struggle it is when their behaviors are in opposition to their answers to the above questions.
- Veteran coaches can use their experience in answering these questions in a deeper way; this provides you valuable insight into your coaching vision.
Wherever you are in your experiences as a coach, take time to develop a coaching point of view and reflect on how it influences your athletes. This way when there is a fork in the road, unlike Alice, you will have a clear vision of the road ahead.
Blanchard, K. (2007). Leading at a higher level. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall Publishing.