Leaders and Coaches: You Set the Tone

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Last weekend while out on a run, I ran by a high school and decided to stop and watch some of a lacrosse game that was about to start.  I came from behind a bunch of trees off a path that went around the school and as I was walking towards the bleachers, I had the opportunity to hear both team coaches speaking to their teams.  The coach of the home team was extremely upbeat and energized.  He was giving his team a very inspiring pep talk reminding them about how they always play best when they play with all their hearts and from their hearts.  He spoke about their passion and skill and love of the game and that was just a smidge of what I heard during the 30 seconds as I walked past them.

As I approached the other side of the field, I got to hear what the visiting team coach was saying to his players.  This was an entirely different type of pep talk.  It was much more serious and forceful and some of what I heard included words like, “play to win; you’re the better team; don’t let them run all over you like you did with last week’s game; don’t let the game get away from you; keep control; fight until the end.”  While walking by this pep talk, I laughed to myself and thought, “I’d rather play for the home team than this one”.

I watched about 15 minutes of the game and although both teams seemed quite skilled and to be playing well, there was definitely a more forceful type of play coming from the visiting team.  When players would sub out for each other and go off to the sidelines, I noticed the visiting team coach continuing his forceful style and pointing out what each player needed to do more of or do better whereas the home team coach would give words of encouragement and point out what was going well.

This whole observation was a great reminder to me about how both coaches and leaders set the tone for their teams.  Sometimes leaders are so busy that they can forget that they have that wonderful ability to influence and inspire their teams. They set the tone with our demeanor.  What tone are you setting with your team?

I only stayed at the lacrosse game for 15 minutes and when I left there was no score yet so I don’t know who won; however, my money’s on the home team.


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