Thursday, May 22, 2008

Clinton, charisma, and coaching

Regardless of your political persuasion, I'd recommend checking out the book "The Clinton Charisma" by Donald Phillips.  [It's about Bill, not Hillary.]  A few highlights:

PAGE 145:  "Once a decision was made, I did not worry about it afterwards." -- Harry Truman 

EM Note:  For coaches, you make a decision -- about a timeout, a rotation, a play, a line-up, a scheme, etc. -- and after the game you can go back and review, but you cant worry about it.  Instead, concentrate on the next game and something you can control.

PAGE 169:  When someone asked Bill Clinton if it was true that he once read 300 books in a year, he laughed and said:  "Yes, that was in 1983 when I didn't have much else to do."  In 1980, he'd lost the race for re-election as Governor of Arkansas.   He used the next two years as a time for reflection and learning.  As part of that, he read almost a book a day.

EM Note:  If you coach long enough, you'll eventually be fired.  It's part of the job, especially in college and the pros.  As a kid (and an adult), I saw it with my father.  I've been fired.  A couple of times, in fact.  Just as Clinton did, I've been reading and reflecting on the last several years.  I travel as much as I can (with two young sons) and I visit with coaches around the country, including Bill Self, Derek Thomas, and Larry Eustacy.  I've become a better coach. 

PAGE 174:  As leaders grow into their jobs, they participate in continued intellectual study, investigate and ponder and engage in personal self analysis and self criticism.  This sustained acquisition of knowledge or skills through experience, practice and study is of profound importance in leadership for three reasons.  It helps leaders:

1.  To enhance decision making.  By gaining deeper understanding to the question at hand, leaders are able to make better, more informed decisions.

2.  To persevere after setbacks and failure because leaders are agents of change, they are likely to experience resistance and push back.  The only way to succeed, therefore, is by learning from experience.

3.  To persuade followers.  By communicating a detailed understanding of initiatives and proposals, leaders are able to convince people in the organization of the merits of their actions.

EM Note:  The parallels to coaching are remarkable. 

PAGE 229:  In the modern arena, when somebody mentions a leader's charisma, they're usually alluding to a number of personal qualities and abilities that enable an individual to influence, persuade, and motivate others.  These might include superb oratorical skills, a dynamic positive energy, and unusual calmness, confidence, and assertiveness in any given situation. Mostly, charisma refers to a leader's undeniable ability to bring out the best in people by connecting with them -- physically, intellectually, and emotionally.

EM Note:  This paragraph sums up coaching:  Influence, persuasion, motivation, confidence, assertiveness.

In a Sept. 27, 1993, story in TIME magazine, Clinton is quoted as saying, "I didn't get hired to be America's chief mechanic.  I got hired to set forth a vision." 

This is what every head coach must do in training camp:   Set a vision for your team.  Then, create a plan or map for achieving that vision.  When you've done that, work with your staff to implement that plan -- every day, every game, every week, every month.