Part 2: Character and Leadership Development

3 Minute Read or Listen Thrive On Challenge Audioblog

(If you have not read Part 1, please read it first)

My Failure

Last year, in a guest blog for Lead Em Up, I shared my journey of becoming intentional about culture development. I had grown frustrated by the lack of leadership in my program, and so, I looked to others for help.

My first step was investing my time and money in the Lead Em Up leadership development curriculum. However, my first step to developing leadership was an absolute failure–not due to the quality of the Lead Em Up program, but due to two factors: (1) The leadership qualities (or lack thereof) that I modeled; and (2) the culture and environment that I shaped, which did not support growth.

No matter what leadership quality was being discussed and practiced—whether it was effective communication, self-awareness, or discipline—I would step out of the team meeting and completely ignore it. I felt like I had a pass. And the players recognized it!

Implementing a character and leadership curriculum is an intentional and valuable step in developing your program and the people in it. Outside resources provide incredible value, especially for coaches who struggle to find the time. Still, before you can effectively implement one of these curricula or programs, a few things need to be in place, or it will be unsuccessful.

4 Culture Essentials Before Implementing A Training Program

Successfully implementing a curriculum or training program requires a few boxes to be ticked first. Beer’s research (as referenced in Part 1) has revealed some key elements which are necessary for our system and culture:

1. Psychological safety is critical BEFORE the implementation of leadership training programs. This aligns with one of the three key elements of a great culture in Daniel Coyle’s book, Culture Code.

2. Leadership training is most effective when it begins with the head coach, assistant coaches, and, arguably, the parents—or “senior leaders”. So, if want to implement a leadership curriculum for your team, the best chance of success is when coaches and parents are the invested in the program!

3. As coaches and parents (“senior leaders”) are being educated, they must embrace change within the system. As Beer says, “If the system does not change, it will not support and sustain individual behavior change—indeed, it will set people up to fail.” We need to take a fresh look at the way we instruct, teach, and lead before we raise our expectations of others.

4. Team members must feel comfortable and encouraged to confront senior leaders with “uncomfortable truths” or problems. Failure to change an organization starts at the top I know this from experience. Too often, I was busy trying to change others instead of growing as a person myself.

Take Action

Start by grading your culture on the four essentials and ask your staff, players, and their parents to grade the culture on those four criteria. Where you start to see common issues and poor grades, take action as the leader to improve in these areas.

—J.P. Nerbun

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