“As soon as you walk out of that office and see your team, you are making a presentation. You had better be prepared every single day.”
– Buck Showalter
Not everyone is a head coach. Not everyone can be the President or CEO. Just simply putting in the time and paying your dues doesn’t mean you are ready to take over. There are plenty of different leadership styles you can use to be successful, and no one specific path to becoming a leader. There is no formula.
There is one thing that I think every successful head coach or leader has: Presence. When I heard Buck Showalter speak a few years back about characteristics of leadership and he gave the above quote, I thought about presence. As a leader, you have to have a presence about you. You have to be able to command a room and deliver a succinct message. You have to look, act and speak like the person in charge, and get others to believe in your message. It’s obviously important to know your craft, but you also have to be able to present it.
I know many excellent coaches who probably won’t be head coaches. They don’t have a presence about them. That doesn’t mean they can’t coach or they don’t know the game. But the combination of their personality and their delivery just doesn’t inspire those around them to buy-in to what they are selling. Your presence is important if you are going to get a group to believe in you.
You can work on your presence as a coach. It starts with being prepared. You have to know the information inside and out so you can deliver it in a simple, understandable message. There’s a saying that if you can’t explain it simply enough, you don’t know it well enough. Any time you spend stumbling over the delivery of your message chips away at your credibility as a leader.
You can also pay attention to how you physically present yourself. “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.” There is a lot of value in the assistant coach who falls asleep on his laptop in the office at night and wakes up in the same old t-shirt he had on the day before. While the grinder assistant is an important part of a good staff, most people probably don’t look at him as a head coach in the future.
It’s important to carry yourself like a head coach so that everyone looks at you that way. Not with arrogance, but with confidence and a preparedness that makes people aware you can handle being in charge.
Your temperament is also an important part of your presence. Calm is a superpower. If you can’t handle your emotions it’s hard to be seen as a leader. Work hard to stay even-keeled and process information before making quick decisions. Don’t add emotion to an already emotional situation. Poise and composure are necessary characteristics of successful long-term leaders.
It’s also important to work on how you deliver your message as a leader. You want to be able to project your voice so that everyone can hear you, understand you and knows who is in control. That goes a long way towards commanding a room. A timid voice or presentation projects insecurity. It’s not the way to get a team to believe in you.
There’s more to being in charge than just knowing what you are talking about. People look at leaders a certain way, and you don’t have a lot of time to convince them you know what you are doing. We all know people who are smart, experienced and committed to their craft who aren’t going to make it as the man or woman in charge. Your presence is important and it’s something you should pay attention to as you prepare yourself to be a head coach.