I do not wish to offend, but I’m a lifelong Philadelphia Phillies fan. I count their World Series win in 2008 as one of the most memorable events of my life. For me, it was more than just winning. It was about a town, a team, and a title, but it was also about family and friends. It was about sitting at a World Series game with not only your father and brother, but also with your daughter, and across generations. We were together, all sharing the same wonderful experience.
Leading up to their recent success under current manager Charlie Manuel, the Phillies organization fired manager Larry Bowa in the final days of the 2004 season. Bowa, as a shortstop for the Phillies, won a World Series ring in 1980, played in all star games, and was awarded multiple Gold Gloves for his fielding prowess. The success Bowa had as a player never really translated to success as a manager. At the time of his dismissal, it was said that the hard nose Bowa wore on his players. It was said that their performance did not match the standards he had for himself when he was a player. It was said that he did not understand his players. It was said that he did not listen to his players.
An essential part of coaching is trust and understanding who you are coaching. This is where Bowa went wrong. Trust between the coach and the team is essential. It breaks down barriers and allows both the coach and the team to grow and learn together. To establish trust the coach has to listen and ask the right questions. Through these questions, the coach will learn important information about the team. This essential information will build bridges for collaboration. Chances are, the coach will learn that the team may not always learn like the coach used to learn or that the team has its own style. Acceptance of these differences, embracing these differences, trusting in each other, will grow a successful product.
In the online setting, face-to-face is not always possible on the road to grow a successful product. Working with text in these spaces can be effective but can also cumbersome and difficult to manage. Images are helpful when team members can see image as a representation of what they are experiencing, feeling, and sharing. Essentially, activities that are interactive and engaging will help teams build trust. Trust bolsters relationships.
Not every great player will be a great coach. Also, not every great coach was a great player. Great coaches listen, build trust, foster relationships, and have expectations that are reasonable. Coaches need to be patient and flexible, because, at the end of the day, things don’t always go according to plan. And that’s ok. One more thing… go Phillies!