A good leader isn’t necessarily an effective leader and an effective leader isn’t necessarily a good leader. While both have their strong suits, the goal is to be a good leader that is able to create long-lasting, sustainable, and impactful change in the lives of those you coach. Being effective at coaching alone is no longer good enough. By implementing the following 7 essential leadership skills you’ll be able to coach CrossFit® as a good leader, creating today, the athletes of tomorrow.
Leading By Example
Leadership isn’t a position or title. Rather, leadership is shown through action and example. Demonstrating leadership when you coach CrossFit® is crucial - it takes your leadership skills and applies them to the athletes and individuals you’re working with.
You create the vision, you inspire the client or individual to believe in that vision, then you lead them towards the ability to execute that vision and achieve. Leadership isn’t something that you can teach. While it’s an inherent skill, it is one that should be continually crafted, leading to bigger and bigger accomplishments and abilities to incite change.
7 Essential Leadership Skills Needed To Effectively Coach CrossFit®
Sure, anyone can pay for certification and apply for a coaching job, using charm and wit to increase their chances of getting hired, landing a position at a box or gym working with clients. In order to be a good coach, one that is effective in their training and efforts, then it’s time to dial in the following 7 essential leadership skills.
Without being able to effectively organize your own skills and plans, how are you going to be able to present and guide others down the path towards success? Being at the helm means being consistently on top of all the contributing pieces to an individual's performance. This means monitoring progress, prioritizing skills and tasks, and constantly evaluating and re-evaluating just about everything.
In addition to overseeing your clients and athletes, here are some crucial organizational leadership skills to always practice:
- Establishing both short-term and long-term goals for an individual's athletic journey
- Developing plans, training programs, techniques and modifications to advance them towards these goals
- Understanding the time demand and schedule restrictions that may keep that athlete from progressing at the pace you wish them too
- Being malleable with your plan and preparing for when plan A doesn’t exactly work the way you thought it would
- Addressing problems, limitations, and barriers
- Resolving these conflicts
- Being in control of the training program and encouraging the athlete's max effort
Good leadership means great communication. You might have the best and brightest ideas in your noggin, however, if you cannot communicate them with your athletes and clients, then what good are they really? This might look like helping athletes understand the programming, how and what their individual objective sand goals are, what’s expected of them (like showing up on time or doing the accessory work when you’re not around), and how to help them when they need it most (psyched out by a PR lift at a competition, anyone?).
Everyone can talk, not everyone can be heard. This is where your second essential leadership skill comes in handy to become a better coach — being a better listener and improving this aspect of your communication. Besides focusing on giving your word, you should also focus on being an attentive listener.
No more thinking about what you’re going to say while the other person is talking. In fact, you may be a better listener than a talker, since the two go hand in hand, and if you work on the listening aspect of communicating first, chances are you’re going to make leaps and bounds in the way you communicate back.
#3 Problem Solving
Sh*t happens, okay? You could have all the plans in the world; does that mean they’re going to work every single time and go off without a hitch? Nope, sure doesn’t. This is where you must learn how to roll with the punches and use your problem-solving leadership skills to chart the best course forward, for yourself as a coach and all the people in your ship (following me here?).
Being flexible, creative, and practical comes with practice, it also comes with a bigger responsibility — asking for help when you need it. You can rally your team, you can pull it together, you can bring your athlete forward to success, sometimes you’re going to need to call in bigger dogs to conquer unforeseen problems and issues. This might mean turning to a mentor, or fellow coach, the box owner, or someone else in the field. Remember: there’s nothing wrong with asking for help to better problem solve your way through an athlete’s journey.
#4 Giving & Receiving Feedback
Do you know what we’re all pretty good at? Sharing our opinions and giving feedback. Do you know what we’re all pretty bad at? Receiving others’ opinions and feedback. Ouch. Hurts right? Well, think of it this way - without constructive criticism and feedback from those around us (and even our clients and athletes) we don’t get better. In fact, we stay the same, and who wants to do that?
Being more open to positive feedback or constructive criticism encourages productivity, happiness, and loyalty. This not only helps you as a coach but all the people that you come into contact with and work with. This is the power of a leader.
Similarly, asking for feedback shows not only your respect for the individual your coaching or the group that you’re working for, yet being genuinely open to this feedback and willingness to implement that change signifies that you’re looking to level up, to rise above, and to become better than you were yesterday. That’s the eminent goal, after all, isn’t it?
#5 Conflict Resolution
When conflict arises, moral and productivity goes down. IF you’re not the light in the room, the one rallying together the energy and excitement around training and class, guess what? Nobody will. And nothing sucks more than an unenthusiastic, quiet, and poor moral class, right? Try to put conflict out quickly and concisely, by achieving fair solutions and involving all of those that were involved. If you get yourself into a bind? Rely on that communication tip we talked about above - listen first, show people that they are heard and respected, then provide a resolution for the conflict and move on.
Whether this is with your athletes, members, coaching staff or owners, keeping the peace is just as important as sharing feedback and giving constructive criticism. Remember, it’s a team effort, and the better the team the better the result.
To manage an athlete and their programming you must ensure that the athlete is on target as specified and to provide notifications and feedback when they’re not. It’s okay if John moves a bit slower than Jane. If they have the same goals? Ensure that they’re on the right path every single day they come into the box.
If they need a little extra TLC in their programming? Keep in mind delegating tasks to become a better athlete and advance in programming isn’t as simple as handing out assignments and expecting them to get done — it requires assigning tasks based on each athlete’s strengths and weaknesses.
#7 Leading & Motivating
Here’s the most crucial part of tying together all of these leadership skills in order to coach CrossFit® better — there’s a difference between just managing your athletes and motivating your athletes. Good leadership isn’t just telling people what to do.
All of your athletes, regardless of talent or ability or where they are in their journey, deserve to feel valued and that responsibility falls upon your shoulders as their coach and the leader that you are (or aspire to be).
Clients and athletes must always feel like they’re experiencing both personal and athletic growth along their journey — you present them with the vision, recognizing their talent and ability, and it’s up to you to inspire them every single time they come into training, to want to achieve those goals and aspirations, with you.
Let Your Leadership Skills Showcase The Coach You Are
If you’re doing your job right, your actions and results will speak for themselves. Showcasing your leadership and your leadership skills as a CrossFit® coach, or any coach at that, isn’t about what you can put on paper and glorify on a resume. Instead, it’s about coming in every single day and leading people towards that vision, that goals, and that eminent place of athleticism with your encouragement, and genuine dedication to lead them there. In a job that puts you in charge of others, show people that they can trust you and your ability, and watch the results speak for themselves.
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