Coach and Athletic Director

June 2018

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C O A C H A D . C O M 47 leaders are unsure if they have legitimacy and permission to lead. Regardless of whether they state it directly, your captains and assistant coaches almost always want and need your public blessing and backing to lead. Earning permission to lead Permission to lead is easy to grant if someone has earned it. It's not something you hand out freely, but it is something that must be both earned and maintained over time. Here are three steps your leaders can take to earn your coaching staff's and teammates' permission to lead. 1 .Lead yourself first. Remind your leaders that the .best way to earn your blessing to lead is by leading themselves effectively. One of the biggest principles we stress with our emerging leaders in our leadership academies is the principle that "all leadership starts with self leadership." They must be able to effectively and consistently lead themselves before trying to lead others. When your athletes demonstrate consistent commitment, confidence, composure and character, it's easy for you to promote and support them as leaders of your team. 2 .Think we instead of me. Coaches support their .leaders when they consciously consider how things impact the entire team — not just them individually. Successful leaders selflessly sacrifice their own goals when necessary in service of the team's goals. When a coach knows that the athlete has a team-first approach, and is willing to consider and value the we over me, it's easy to grant them permission to lead. 3 .Forge a formidable leadership team. As Duke men's .basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski once said, "You don't need a leader, you need a leadership team." Coaches can best trust and support their leaders when they know they are all on the same page as a solid leadership team. Your leaders must protect your back as well. They must be your voice in the locker room and speak up when someone unjustly criticizes your decisions, rather than fueling the frustration by agreeing with teammates or condoning it by staying silent. They also must be open and honest with you and keep you informed about what's going on. In essence, good leaders act as smoke detectors and junior firefighters. They must properly alert you to issues and serve as your first line of defense when the inevitable brushfires of conflicts and cliques flare up on your team. Impress upon them how important it is that they keep you in the loop and help you detect and douse the flames of dissension. You don't need to know every minor detail, but as co-leaders of the team, your captains need to take ownership and keep you connected with what's going on in the program behind the scenes. It's much easier to support them when you know you won't be blindsided by problems that they knew about but didn't say anything. By acting in these three ways, your athletes can earn your trust and respect, making it much easier for you to put your full support and trust in them as leaders of the program. For more info on helping your team win championships, visit

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