• As another JV football season has come to a close, it’s a great time to look back and assess the season and my performance as the coach. This was my first year as head coach of the JV program with the Carolina Pride and was a tremendous learning experience. I’ve been the head ball coach before – but only at the middle school level. High school JV football brings a new level of intensity, excitement, and time commitment.

    As I’ve looked back over this season, I’ve seen a trend of how similar coaching and managing is. There are so many facets to coaching a successful football team – and many of these apply to managing a business.

    Coaching is Influencing

    One of the struggles many first time coaches – and first time managers – face is the understanding that as a coach, you are influencing your team to win. You are not the one out there making blocks, reading defenders, or tackling in the open field. You spend a huge amount of time and energy teaching your team the proper techniques, skills, and plays to execute on game day, but the actual play execution is out of your hands.

    This year, I spent a tremendous amount of time teaching the basics – we had a lot of first time players – and a lot of players (42 on JV)! This time was well spent teaching the players how to play the game of football. We spent a lot of time game planning off the field to create the right plan for each game.

    As a manager, you are typically not the one writing the software code, balancing the books, or creating the new logo. You are creating an environment where your employees can execute your game plan to success.

    Assemble a Top Notch Team

    football coachingA head football coach must assemble a trusted team of assistant coaches. There are few hours to prepare properly for each football game, so each assistant coach must know the tasks that need to get accomplished to prepare for each game. Head football coaches that micromanage have teams that can only rise to their level of performance.

    A business manager understands the importance of assembling a high performance team and enabling his employees to do their jobs.

    Preparation is as Important as Execution

    Each Sunday night, the coaching staff would gather to review the game film from the previous week. This review time wasn’t to dwell on the past week’s performance, but rather an opportunity to see each player’s weaknesses and create a plan to improve the skills for the next week. Additionally, we would review game film for the following game to see our opponent’s strengths and weaknesses.

    The preparation for each week is important to the execution of our gameplan. If we didn’t know what to expect each Thursday night, we wouldn’t know exactly how to prepare for the game.

    In business, there is a tremendous amount of planning which must occur to find success. If you do not plan, you may stumble into success, but a written plan allows you to understand where you’re going, how you’re going to get there, and what changes must be made along the route if something happens.

    Learn How to Say “No”

    I made several mistakes in my early years of coaching with players. Too often, I didn’t want to hurt their feelings, so I didn’t learn how to effectively communicate “no.” I had to deal with loud and obnoxious parents. I didn’t know when and how to let them down easy.

    Over the years, I’ve learned when and how to say “no” to players, parents, coaches, our athletic director, and anyone else seeking our time or attention. Learning to say “no” is difficult for many people, but it’s essential for long term success. With 42 players, all of them had something going on all the time. Parents would call me to discuss an issue with their son – not realizing I had to deal with 42 sets of parents calling me about issues with their sons. Learning to listen to people and either deal with the issue or squash the issue was essential to make it through the season.

    In business, there are many times you will need to say no to employees, business partners, your boss, investors, or customers.

    Lean on Your Advisers

    I am fortunate to have a great athletic director and a wonderful varsity coaching staff to lean on when I have a question, need assistance, or just need an ear to vent to. Coaching football can be stressful and it’s important to have someone who can look in from a high level and offer solid advice.

    Lean on your business advisers to help you see the forest in your business. In the day to day, we often focus on the trees, fallen branches, leaves on the ground, and do not realize how massive the forest is around us – or how we’re going to make it through. Our advisers and trusted confidants can guide us down the path through the forest.

    Bottom Line Results Matter

    In coaching, there’s an easy measure of success: wins and losses. You can’t fake a record. You can’t use pie charts, graphs, and a fancy presentation to explain away your win-loss record. The record isn’t everything, but it’s a great measure of your success with your football team. We measure things beyond just the win-loss record in our football program, but the win-loss record is the “bottom line” result that does matter.

    At the end of the day, if you’re an entrepreneur, you can’t fake it. You either made money or you lost money. This is the bottom line result that does matter.

    Lessons Learned

    The football field teaches many lessons which you can apply to your business career:

    1. Coaching is influencing: coach your team to excellence and understand that they must learn how to execute your plan.
    2. Assemble a top notch team: you must assemble a trusted, excellent team.
    3. Preparation is as important as execution: it is a lot of hard work to prepare – but the benefits of having a clear plan will pay dividends well into the future.
    4. Learn how to say “no”: learn when and how to say “no” effectively.
    5. Lean on your advisers: use advisers to help through see the big picture through the toil of every day.
    6. Bottom line results matter: at the end of the day, you must find a fact-based metric that demonstrates a win or a loss.

    This entry was posted on Friday, November 20th, 2009 at 1:21 pm and is filed under Management. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

    Take a look at some of the responses we have had to this article.

  • Leave a Reply

    Let us know what you thought.

  • Name(required):