*Note* This post comes from a newsletter called “The Coaches’ Newsletter” that I send out each month to athletic directors, who in turn forward it on to their coaches. I also send them a newsletter called “The AD Newsletter” to put into their school’s newsletter for parents and students. This year I am focusing on a different verb each month that is somewhat appropriate for that month. For August the verb was “Encourage” and for September it was “Focus.” If you or your AD is interested in receiving the newsletters, email me at email@example.com.
Photo by Ricardo Gomez Angel on Unsplash
In this month’s AD Newsletter that I sent out to the parents, I said that it is October, a month of change or transformation. This is the month where all across America leaves change their colors. The weather turns from the steady heat of summer to the cool of fall. Days get shorter & nights get longer. But I also pointed out that nature is not the only place where we see changes. Our personal daily patterns change, too, due to the weather and the shorter days and longer nights. Our schedules change as activities change with the seasons.
“Change” can be a tricky word. Many people don’t like change. Some even fear it. The normal daily habits and patterns of life can be comforting to us. We like comfort, and when we are about to have changes come into our lives, we balk at them. We know that with change can come discomfort. However, while comfort may feel good, not much comes from it. It’s been said that “A comfort zone is a beautiful place. . . but nothing ever grows there.” You need to push and stretch yourself out of a comfort zone to truly grow. You need to transform.
My message to the parents and students was that you must be intentional about creating the change and transformation that you seek in yourself. You must focus on working hard to improve, develop, and grow if you want to transform into a better you. The only way that true growth will occur is if you get intentional about doing what needs to be done to grow the way you want to grow.
That is a message that can resonate with all of us, not just our students and athletes. As coaches, it is imperative that we, too, are working to grow and develop ourselves. Whether you are out-of-season, in-season, pre-season, or post-season, there are a variety of things you can be doing to transform yourself and your programs. From reading books to watching videos to listening to podcasts to attending clinics to talking with fellow coaches, there are limitless opportunities for you to grow as a coach.
The key to all of it is intentionality. We must be intentional about our growth. We must purposefully seek to become better at what we do – in this case, coaching. When we get intentional, we take an active role in our improvement and development. We work to become our best.
Think about it – isn’t that what you want from your kids? Don’t you want them to be intentional in becoming their best? You want them to be committed to all that you ask of them to be the best they can be for their teams. Then it is critical that you be that way, too. We talk all the time about teachers and coaches being role models and examples for their kids. Be a great example for them on being intentional about transforming themselves into who they want to be.
One other thing about the word “transform.” It is the root word to the word “transformational.” That might not be that big of a deal to you, but when we start talking about leadership, “transformational” takes on huge meaning.
Transactional vs. Transformational
Leadership is often discussed in one of two ways – “transactional leadership” and “transformational leadership.” These two ideas on leadership both have their merits, and a simple Google search will produce all kinds of articles on the topic. One way to look at them is to think of them in this way described on Boundless.com:
Transactional leaders focus on the role of supervision, organization, and group performance. They are concerned about the status quo and day-to-day progress toward goals. Transformational leaders work to enhance the motivation and engagement of followers by directing their behavior toward a shared vision.
While transactional leadership operates within existing boundaries of processes, structures, and goals, transformational leadership challenges the current state and is change-oriented. Transactional leadership is more akin to the common notions of management, whereas transformational leadership adheres more closely to what is colloquially referred to as leadership.
People in the leadership world will often point to transactional leadership as being something to avoid. While I understand the sentiment, there are some important elements in it to consider having be part of your leadership. The elements mentioned of supervision, organization, group performance, processes, structures, and goals are all good things when combined with the motivation and engagement moving toward a shared vision involved in transformational leadership. Leaders need to be able to manage as well as lead, so the managerial aspects of transactional leadership are important to possess.
The problems come when leaders are only transactional leaders, when they don’t show the capability to be transformational in their dealing with those they lead. The best leaders understand that there is much more to leading than just organizing, supervising, and managing. They understand that a major component of leadership is working to create change in the culture and in those they lead. It is about guiding, modeling, and mentoring the people they lead. It is more about vision and inspiration and working in tandem with and for the people they lead. It is much more about serving than managing.
When we adopt a mindset of transformation, we start the process of true growth within ourselves and our teams. We push others to new heights, not by standing behind them and directing and ordering them. We push them by pulling them along with us. We help them understand our team’s values and how to live by those values. We then model those values for them to be able to follow our example and become transformative themselves.
I challenge each of you to seek to be transformational in your approach more than transactional. When you transform your culture through working towards your vision, you will find your culture achieving new levels of success. Enjoy the journey towards transformational leadership!