TBT: The coaches’ approach to leadership, communication

The last Throw Back Thursday (TBT) blog in the leadership series features a 2016 WBCA Convention Learning Lab — hosted by Florida State head coach Sue Semrau and Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw. Titled The Coaches Approach to Leadership and Communication, the session was an open question-and-answer format where fellow WBCA members worked to unlock the secret to leading and communicating in the new generation.

Modeling Calm and Confidence
McGraw opened the panel addressing the importance of watching the way one reacts to things throughout the season stating, “How you react … those moments determine your career. As a leader, it’s important to set the tone. Kids are watching everything negative you do.”

Teaching student-athletes to work through stressful situations can be as easy as controlling your body language. With the example of a student-athlete going down with an injury, McGraw shared that when her body language is controlled, confident and calm, her players in act the same way. “It is really important to role model what you want.”

McGraw went on to explain positive leadership and communication tips for press conferences and meetings with student-athletes and coaching staffs including:

  1. Using “we” instead of “they.”
  2. Getting player buy-in.
  3. Hiring your best staff and letting them do their job.

Understanding Generation Y
Semrau joined the discussion by introducing an article one of her student-athletes shared via social media. It described the disconnect between coaches and Generation Y. Semrau addressed one of three things coaches need to know when trying to bridge the generational gap.

Generation Y is sensitive, yet desensitized. The article went on to say Generation Y live in a world that encourages a “be unbothered” attitude, which in return does not allow them to have a stage to express being hurt and owning up to their failures. So, how do you tackle the needs of the new generation? Semrau credits her team’s cultural philosophy — they don’t care how much you know if they don’t know how much you care.

Connection is Key
The importance of being intentional when getting to know your student-athletes is key. Semrau said texting players is great, but it also causes you to miss that opportunity to connect. She shared how coaches should initiate face-to-face meetings with student-athletes. One thing she designed was a meeting rotation. One group starts on the court, another group starts in the weight room, and a final group starts in her office. Once done, all groups rotate.

The session was then opened to the audience for questions. To hear the secret ingredient to the special sauce, watch the entire video at wbca.org where you will also find more videos from the WBCA Convention in the WBCA Coaches Library.

Release Date: 
Thursday, January 26, 2017