“Asking others who are strong in areas where you are weak to help you is a great skill that you should develop no mater what, as it will help you develop guardrails that will prevent you from doing what you shouldn’t be doing. All successful people are good at this.”
Ray Dalio, Principles
When you get a head job, putting together the right staff is essential. And when you are putting together that staff, the above quote from Ray Dalio is a great guide.
It starts with being self-aware. Determining what you are good at and where you need help is neither easy nor comfortable, but it’s very important. Have a “tough cup of coffee” with someone you are close with who you really respect. Figure out exactly what you are good at and where you need help.
Then you have to have the guts to actually do it. Evaluate potential staff members based on how they fit in with you, and what strengths they bring to the table. When I became the head coach at Maine, I hadn’t been recruiting at the D1 level in 9 years. I stayed on a D1 recruiting calendar when I was at Rhode Island College so I was still visible to a lot of the key influencers in recruiting, but I had to recognize that I hadn’t offered a D1 player a scholarship in almost a decade. So I needed to find assistants who had strength in that area, and I was able to hire to current D1 assistants from successful programs.
I also knew through my experience as a head coach that I could really build a program and run it from a culture standpoint, but that it took some time. My relationships were great with my players at RIC, it wasn’t an area where I felt weak, but I knew how important it was. And I realized that any relationship issues that may have come up at RIC were helped out by the fact that we were winning at a high level. At Maine, we were taking over a last place program and I knew winning was going to be very hard from the outset. So I wanted to hire assistants that I knew would be fully invested in our players and be able to develop great relationships with them. Establishing a championship culture involves a lot of stuff that isn’t fun and your players might now want to do, and I knew I was going to be the one delivering that message. So the relationships my assistants would develop were very important.
It’s such a common mistake to surround yourself with people that make you feel comfortable. People that don’t challenge you. That isn’t going to make you better. Make sure the people around you are strong where you are weak if you truly care about getting better and achieving at a high level.