Think of your credibility as a coach like a bank account. You make small deposits each day and your credibility starts to build over time. As your time in front of your team increases, the buy-in to your approach grows. Eventually you have a lot of money in the bank, and the ability to afford more opportunities. With a lot of credibility built up, you can push your kids a little bit more, change your tone when necessary to make a point, and take some risks with regards to team decisions with more confidence.
The flip side is when you take out a big withdrawal, all of the savings you have built up are gone. And when your bank account is depleted it takes a long time to build it back up again.
As a coach or leader in any field you should be thinking about your level of credibility every day. This is an area many coaches don’t spend enough time thinking about. There’s an element of “I’m the head coach, everyone does what I say” when you are in charge. But you credibility is really what allows you to get buy-in from your players and push them as hard as you want.
Any sign of inconsistency is a small withdrawal on your credibility of a leader. You have to recognize that. Any time you say one thing and do another or just don’t follow through on what you say, your credibility takes a hit. Your players start to wonder if they can trust you, and that’s a road you don’t want to go down.
Having clearly defined standards and holding everyone accountable to those standards – including yourself – is the best way to make deposits into your account and build credibility. If you set a standard for your team, everyone has to know you are going to follow through.
If everyone has to run a 6:00 mile before they get a practice jersey, then you better make sure the guys that don’t make it reach that standard before they show up on the practice floor. If the team has to make 3 straight 1 and 1s before the end of practice, then you better make sure you stay there until your guys make those free throws. I’ve been at many practices where a time is put up on the clock for a sprint, and half the team doesn’t make it. And no one says anything about it and they just move on. If you are going to have a standard, make them live up to it. If they don’t, you are simply losing credibility with your team. You are telling them that standards don’t really matter, and neither does the message you are delivering.
Your credibility as a coach is what allows for long term, sustained success. But it’s not just about delivering in the big picture. It’s about how you communicate each day, and making sure you follow up on everything you say. Leadership moves fast, and it’s easy to want to just move forward and get on to the next important thing. Don’t take your credibility for granted. You are making deposits and withdrawals every day, and they have a huge impact on your ability to lead.