What does it mean, for a Little League® manager or coach, to be a leader? With apologies to Elizabeth Barrett Browning, “let me count the ways.”
You Lead Your Players
Teaching and nurturing – physically, mentally, and emotionally – is your most important leadership role. Your players are vulnerable in all three of those areas and also have nearly unlimited room for growth in all three.
The etymology of the word “coach” stems from the word that used to mean “a vehicle for moving very important people from place to place.” Any positive way you can do that will show leadership.
“Explaining how and why you are leading the way you do will teach the players how to become leaders.”
For example: ‘I am bringing us all together into this huddle to talk about our two-strike approach, because I want us all to be on the same page. I also want you all to be able to remind each other of our two-strike approach. That’s because sometimes you will listen better to each other than you will to me. Sometimes, players speak each other’s language better than coaches can. The more people we have who are able to talk and listen to each other about our two-strike approach, the more success our team will enjoy and the more you all will develop into leaders on this team and on your future teams, including the ones you will lead as adults in your work places.
You Lead Your Team
That’s different than leading your players. You lead your players individually, as recognizing the unique person that each one is. Your team, you lead collectively. Your leadership will show in every decision from line-up, to uniform appearance, to post-game handshake line behavior, and how everyone – together –conducts and carriers themselves.
You Lead the Co-coaches on Your Team
No matter who is the manager, any coach can and should occasionally come to the fore as the leader. Different people perform better at different roles in different situations. Leaders move to the front and the back of the pack in various circumstances.
It may go against conventional wisdom to “lead from behind.” But, many of the best leaders – in baseball, softball and beyond – do exactly that. They lead by letting others gain glory, and they move to the front when it’s time to protect those they are entrusted to serve.
You Lead Your Players’ Parents
Coaches set the tone, just as they do for players. If coaches yell at umpires, likely so will the players and their parents. If coaches are friendly with their opponents, chances are the parents in the stands will follow.
Notice how this last area specifically requires the coach to set an example. But when you think about it, so do all the different areas in which we hope coaches lead.
Additional free resources from PCA are available at www.PCADevZone.org. For more insight on sports parenting, subscribe to PCA’s Sports Parent Conversation Starters, a weekly e-mail series with advice on talking to your children about their youth sports experiences. You can access a free, quick online Second-Goal Parent course at http://www.littleleague.org/pca.htm.
Submitted by Positive Coaching Alliance