It’s often said the hallmark of a good boss is one that employs people ‘better’ than them. Not quite the selfless act it appears; one philosophy behind this is to surround yourself with the best people, who in turn make you look good. Whatever the rationale, one underpinning belief may be that in order to be successful as an individual, you must be first successful as a team.
The same is true in sports coaching.
But it takes strong leadership, guiding core values and a holistic approach to be able to lead a thriving team. So then, how do successful leaders, from Phil Neville to Gary Lough, achieve this with great success?
In this article, we look at the guiding principles behind a thriving team and how these can be implemented into any sports coaching role. Keeping in mind that a high-performing team here is the goal, we’ll look at steps to take to achieve this.
In sport’s psychology, there are certain behavioural guiding principles that impact on an outcome. These include having a positive mind-set, mental preparation, being aware of thoughts and actions, personal wellbeing and many other external influences, such as sport-specific skill and competency.
Look at any successful sports coach or leader and it’s clear to see that they observe certain traits and principles. Some of these include:
- Discipline – being organised and focused, with themselves and the teams they manage.
- Communication – being clear in their writing and verbal communication, keeping those around them engaged and involved at all times. Consistency in presentation is important also. Transparency has become a buzzword in sports coaching, it’s an important element of good team management.
- Engagement – understanding what motivates people and keeping them interested and refreshed, with a focus on wellbeing and personal growth.
- Teamwork – respecting the combined group effort. This means appreciating and recognising the value that each individual brings.
The Importance of a Thriving Team
A thriving team is one that is highly motivated and collaborative, working together to achieve a shared goal.
Thriving teams are high performing with quality interactions and results. It is the mecca to strive for in a team dynamic, because a highly motivated workforce is the best example of success.
High performance teams can have many complexities. However, they require every member of the team to take responsibility for their actions, in order to grow. In simple terms, sustainable behavioural change influences how the team behaves. This is dependent therefore on strong leadership from the sports coach or manager at the helm.
Key Behaviours Defined
There are two main elements when looking at a thriving work culture. The first is competency; this is about learned skills, education and ability. The other, which we’ll focus on, is behaviours.
In sports psychology, a thriving team and culture will often demonstrate the following behaviours:
- Respecting leadership. This is often the result of the manager respecting individuals and being tuned in to their needs. They are often described as ‘role models’, since they promote challenge for personal growth, reward effort and know how to motivate their workforce.
- Engaged colleagues – this is the result of many number of factors, including having a clearly defined role and understanding objectives to reach.
- Collaboration – individuals that value their contribution and those of the wider team, in pursuit of a shared team objective or goal.
- Commitment – as a team to the overall success of the ‘sum of its parts’. This means promoting best-practice techniques, with wellbeing at its core.
- A buzz – we often hear the word the team had a ‘buzz’ about them. This is the result of a highly energised workforce.
- Challenging – in order to progress and grow as an individual and a business, standards need to be continually pushed and challenged
- Teamwork – finally and most importantly of all, thriving does not happen in isolation, it is the result of a combined team effort.
Principles in Practice
At the start of this article we mentioned the importance of sustainable behavioural change and how it can influence how a team behaves. Behind this are key principles that a sports coach can introduce to promote a thriving team.
The first of these is laying the foundations for the right framework, in order to facilitate a thriving culture. Sharing your vision and core principles with other senior team members, promoting a collaborative approach and maintaining good communication at all times. It can’t be mentioned enough that a thriving team doesn’t happen in isolation, it is the result of a conscious effort from everyone involved.
Second to this is a wellbeing in the workplace. In recent year’s we’ve come to understand the impact of the work environment in mental health. The world of sport and sports coaching is not immune to this. It’s therefore important to have a robust and available mental health strategy embedded across the company. Open and honest communication is important to ensure everyone has access to this without stigma or prejudice.
Finally, with the nature of sport taking its physical toll on individuals, it’s imperative to offer good healthcare plans to your team. This includes competition preparation and support in advance of major competitions and events.
These are just some of the practices that can help promote a thriving workforce.
The best example of a highly successful team is a thriving one. A team that works together for one-shared goal, is a team that understands good communication, team support and their own role and contribution. Respect plays a huge role in all of this. It’s important to respect leadership in the first place, to trust and guide them. It’s also important to respect each other, letting go of ego in place of focus.
But above all, it’s important for the organisation as a whole to respect the sum of its parts. By offering robust healthcare, by promoting wellbeing in the workplace and by ensuring the entire staff share a common vision, only then can a thriving team and culture truly exist.