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Leadership Where You Find It: Building Up Nick

February 16, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 129

Leadership Where You Find It

The Leadership Where You Find It series focuses on finding great of examples of leadership in everyday life. We can recognize it, reward it, and most importantly learn from it.

Boys Junior High Basketball Game

I had the pleasure to recently be the scorekeeper for a Junior High Boys Basketball team. This team is small in both members and height compared to most of their competitors. As you will find on any team some members are naturals in a sports setting while others are not as comfortable yet giving it their best and a couple players are entirely new to the sport of basketball.

I've seen this team play before and I appreciate the coach for volunteering his time, I've not always been impressed with the coaching style I have seen - it often seemed to me like he was distant from the players.

The team they were playing seemed like modern day Goliaths compared to the team I was keeping book for. Several of their players were at least a foot taller - makes me wonder what is in the water in central Wood County Ohio. This Academy had no problems running the score up either as they were winning by 30 points at half time.

Mid-way through the second half I noticed one of the newer players who I will call 'Nick' talking to the coach - in fact he was crying more than talking. I had at first thought he had been hurt on the court and was now feeling the injury. However, when the fourth quarter started this not as gifted of a player was in the game.

The coach kept making sure the players knew that they were supposed to follow the plays - this was stated from the bench and in time out huddles. I quickly noticed that each play ended with Nick getting the ball to shoot for the basket - though I also noticed he always looked a little unsure and surprised as he caught the ball.

Nick did keep shooting for the basket, sometimes the ball bounced off the rim, sometimes it was blocked by Paul Bunyan's nephews on the other team. This continued through the whole fourth quarter. Many of these shots that Nick took should have gone in, but the forces of gravity and apparent magnetism caused none of them to ever drop. He even had a couple chances at free throws that just didn't quite make it through the hoop. I did notice much less surprise in his face each time he got the ball though, it became more comfortable to him.

Junior High Boy games happen every day, and in every game someone wins, someone loses, someone smiles and someone feels sad, yet I knew there was more going on here. I talked to the coach and a few others after the game to find out what had happened. Nick's tears were not from physical pain, but from feeling he was not worthy to be on the court, that he was no good and hurting his team's chances of winning when he had played in the first half. We have all been there when self-doubt is bigger than our confidence, and Nick was feeling it big time.

The coach could've let Nick sit on the bench to get over his issues and play the more athletic players, he could've tried to make the loss not as bad, but instead this coach made the fourth quarter about Nick. He wanted to build up Nick's confidence, to show him he is a valuable member of that team. It probably would've been a bit easier if Nick had made a couple baskets, but that isn't the most important thing.

Here is what I learned from this game.

Focus: Every player on the court and bench had their eye on the ball, and on Nick. Winning or getting more points for a respectable loss didn't matter; they had all had a common goal in mind.

Team Support: Sixth and Seventh grade boys like to show boat (as do boys of every other age), yet all these boys followed the coach and followed the focus. They could've tried making three point shots, they could've tried to draw a foul and get the 6'5" sixth grader on the other team off the floor, they could've done many things but they didn't. They trusted their coach and they cared about their team mate. This shows a great environment in the school and in the team. While the coach is not fully responsible for this - he has had a big influence here.

Engagement: This is the most important - Nick caught the ball every time it was passed to him, he may not have scored any points but he tried and he was on target - just not as successful as everyone hoped. Every time he caught the ball and every time he attempted a basket, he was engaged. He wasn't just on the floor watching the game happen between 2 or 3 other players - he was one of those players making things happen.

Coaching: Now that Nick has been involved and attempted making many baskets, the coach has something to work with him on. If he had stayed on the bench feeling bad the coach's job would've been just trying to get him involved. Now basket shooting and running drills will have all a whole different meaning - and will lead to even better results.

My Lessons Learned: I realized I had been summing up the coaches style and abilities because of a few things I noticed at different times - I saw what I perceived to be his weaknesses. I always appreciated he had volunteered his time for those kids but my thoughts didn't go much past that. Yet, when I really watched, looked with intent in how he was coaching; I found a man willing to do what it took to build up a player. He could've tried a hundred different things in that scenario, some that would have fed his ego or practiced newer plays in a game situation but no - he did what was in his power to make a real difference.

Call to Action:

In the work place it isn't as easy to see that kid on the bench crying, but are there others who are feeling they lack the ability to perform? Do you always go to the same stars while the others just stand there contributing minimally? What will happen to those who aren't as involved? Will they become better performers or will they get worse?

It is easy to see that if someone stays on the sidelines they will never develop. It is much easier to lead by giving the big tasks to those people we find comfort with. So I challenge you to throw the ball to those who haven't been a starter, there is no better way to engage them, to build them up, and to get better performance from your entire team!

John Stacy observes Leadership Moments in North West Ohio. He Bridges the gap between technical and non-technical in a Corporate setting, and also does Management Consulting.

Source: EzineArticles
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