And yet, every truly great leader since the beginning of time has always inspired their followers by starting with the why, i.e., the purpose, cause or belief that defines why the program exists in the first place. Great leaders, by their words and actions, create a clear vision of a world that is so different and amazing that the followers want to commit their hard work to help build it. The leader just serves as a compass to get there.
The reason the why is so powerful is that when you connect to it, the response is visceral, i.e., it connects to the emotional part of the brain that controls behavior not language. The follower cannot explain it, but they are certain it defines who they are.
Fundamentally, what great leaders do is offer a vision of a better place and one where the followers feel safe. These two factors cause the followers to believe the leader has their best interest in mind. The reward for the leader and the program is hard work, loyalty, love innovation, ideas, progress, cooperation and trust.
Why does your league, program or team exist?
Every sport team, program and league promises the possibility of wins and championships because they have great coaches who use sound methodology and the latest technology to develop great players and a winning approach. And yet, only one team can end the season with a win. Experienced coaches know that for many reasons a great team and, sometimes even the best team, does not always win. Most of the players on those teams will not play the sport in college or professionally.
Experienced coaches also know that the communication of appreciation they receive from their players ten years after their time in the program is done almost never talk about the wins and championships; they only thank them for how the program and coaching made them a better person.
So when the season is done, what defines your team, your program and your players? What defines who they are and have become that they can use for the rest of their lives? What lessons within the game for beyond the game have they learned that will inspire them to promote your program, to teach others what you have taught them to work tirelessly to help the less fortunate, and to make the world a better place?
Here are some ways you can properly develop a why, a purpose, to your program:
1) Start with a paradigm shift in why you coach; a mission not simply to win games and championships, but for deeper reasons for the long-term benefit of your players as people of high integrity and character;
2) Set goals for the season generally and for every practice during the season that proactively teach the players to be better sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, spouses, students, employees and leaders.
3) Use quotations, role plays and guest speakers to proactively design life lessons about self-care, character, integrity, and caring for others into every training and practice session.
4) Have your players play games in your sport with children and people with disabilities;
5) Have your players voluntarily serve other organizations at your school and in your community with no expectation of a monetary return.
When you do these things, your program will not only easily recruit high-quality people that will win games and championships, those people will gratefully work now and in the future to develop and inspire Champions for Life.