Five Ways To Earn Loyalty From Your Team

posted by Coach Dawn Writes
Monday, October 17, 2011 at 11:57am EDT

My blog is a place for coaches at all levels who are interested in building teams, motivating their student athletes, and coaching ideas that work. You won't find drills or job postings there, but you will find thoughts from a self-proclaimed coaching nerd who wants to help coaches and teams thrive.

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In the third of a three-part series, I’ll discuss how to build loyalty among teammates, loyalty to the coach, and loyalty to the program.  If you’d like to see the original blog post, check out Leadership Freak’s 15 Techniques That Build Loyal Followers.

“People want to be loyal to a person, cause, or organization that deserves loyalty. Expressing loyalty is a noble act that enhances our feelings of worth and gives meaning to life.”—Leadership Freak

Here are five ways to show our teams that we deserve their loyalty

  1. Clearly describe what you want.  Since we’re the leader, our teams want us to be strong, clear, and unwavering.  I’m not saying that the game plan can’t change…good coaches make in-game adjustments.  And I’m not saying that you can’t use different methods to try and reach your team…if it ain’t working, you’ve got to switch things up.  Here’s what I’m saying: every coach needs to have beliefs that don’t change about how we will approach our job.  Is it okay to yell at your team?  How will you handle it when a player blatantly disobeys you?  Is it okay to curse at and/or around your team?  There are many other questions to think about, but thinking along these lines will help you to send a clear and consistent message to your team.
  2. Model behaviors you expect.  If we want our teams to remain composed during tough times, then that’s what we’ve got to do.  If we want our teams to compete ‘til the very end, then they’ve got to see our competitive juices flowing as well.  I think it’d be pretty hard for our teams to remain loyal to us if we’re asking them to behave in a certain way, yet we weren’t willing to operate under the same rules.
  3. Share the spotlight. If we make the highs of our season all about the team and the lows all about us, our team will be willing to run through walls for us.  Not only that, they’ll see that being on a team is about being unselfish and that no team victories happen because of just one person…coach or player.
  4. Don’t be a buddy.  I wrote about this topic in my post, Adventures Of A Bad Coach: Variations On A Theme.  The coach has power (teaching, leading, assigning playing time) over the athlete, which makes a friend relationship impossible.  Coaches who try to be friends with their athletes eventually realize that it can’t be done.  We’re all naturally drawn to certain personality types, which means that we’d be better “friends” with certain players on the team.  Can you see how that could be seen as playing favorites?  And how it could destroy any loyalty that you’ve built up on the team?
  5. Make it easy to get things done.  How can we do that?  Give them less options, check out this post to see more on that topic.  The less options they’ve got to sort through in order to accomplish a goal, the more success they will find. Instead of saying, tell me your goals, you can ask them for three specific goals about their sport.  Instead of asking them to be a good leader, you can tell them that the team really needs them to be a positive voice on the court.  Whatever the issue, narrowing the choices and focusing their energy will help them be successful…which will lead them to feel loyalty toward you.

Hopefully you enjoyed this series on loyalty.  Click the links below to read the other posts!

Part One: How To Become A Leader That People Follow
Part Two: 5 Reasons Loyalty Is Important On Teams

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