Developing Your Inner Coach

Developing Your Inner-Coach

Skills essential for developing winning athletic teams are also important in business and life. An all-star lineup, home court advantage and raucous fans will get you only so far as an athletic team.

The same can be said for a great sales force, a dynamite advertising team and unlimited market potential.

Without a savvy leader at either helm, without a coach or a manager who knows what strings to pull and when, even the greatest contenders or businesses can flounder. And that’s where Heather Chadwick and her eight-week online class in Creighton University’s College of Professional Studies can come in handy.

“It’s an awesome course,” says Chadwick, who started teaching the course in 2013 as part of the University’s online Bachelor of Science in Leadership program. “When we start talking about leadership and what that means, we have to have the conversation on coaching and mentoring and demonstrate the importance of those ideas in leadership. What does it take to be a good coach?”

In Chadwick’s course, students explore the essential tools to help them develop their inner-coach, gradually developing the glue holding together championship teams or accomplishing great things in life’s numerous other pursuits.

Perhaps the most important lesson for any coach in creating a winning formula is the ability to be adaptable. The one-size-fits-all approach of management is no longer a viable option in the multifarious workplace of today, Chadwick says.

“You have to know your workforce,” she says. “Some people respond to the high-intensity, high-demand atmosphere. Other people, not so much. There are all types of different theories in coaching, so you have to know your stakeholders, know who’s involved and how to motivate them.”

It’s a lesson echoed by Todd Darnold, Ph.D., associate professor of organizational behavior and human resource management at Creighton, who extensively teaches the coaching model.

“To put it in the terms of athletics, you don’t coach your center the same way you coach your point guard,” says Darnold, who incorporates coaching management philosophies into his MBA courses and is also helping the Heider College of Business develop a program with the Institute for Career Advancement Needs, an Omaha-based nonprofit interested in developing the next generation of business leaders. “In the workplace, you don’t coach your highly motivated people the same way you coach those who might be struggling. It’s an idea that’s gained more momentum over time: How do you work with people from all across the spectrum and remain responsive to their needs?”

Coaching metaphors from the athletic world often wend their way into both Chadwick’s and Darnold’s curricula.

One of the first lessons Chadwick’s classes tackle is taking the mystique out of coaching. Coaches like Mike Krzyzewski and John Wooden, she says, didn’t magically become eminent leaders of their basketball teams.

“They developed a system and a vision,” Chadwick says. “Metrics in athletics are fairly easy to find. They can be a little bit harder in the business world, but people know success when they see it. A great coach will get the buy-in from their employees, who then will take ownership of that success. And just like in sports, nobody wants to be coached forever. They want to take those skills and translate them into their everyday lives and become their own coach, passing on those leadership lessons.”