Thursday, July 11, 2013

Leadership Training 5.1

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

We held our fifth classroom training session for coaches and volunteers from youth football academies around Kumba today. Our topic was “Interpersonal Relationships.” We asked the leaders the following questions to help form the basis of a discussion:

1. How do you define an interpersonal relationship?
2. As a coach, how do you develop an interpersonal relationship with youth players?
3. As a coach, what is the purpose of developing interpersonal relationships with youth players?

Coaches are often thought of as people with boisterous personalities that can use booming voices and motivational speeches to rally their teams before a match. Today, I really wanted the people in class to embrace the other role of the coach—One that is gentler, kind, caring, and compassionate. We talked of a coach who gains the trust and respect of his players by getting to know them each as individuals. A good coach, we said, cares about the development of each individual player before he cares about winning. Plus, by maximizing the potential of each individual player, the overall team output, we discussed, will only be better.

I concluded by telling them about one of the professional soccer coaches I most admire—Bob Bradley. Bob Bradley is the former coach of the United States Men’s National Team. Talking about Bob Bradley to Cameroonians actually had additional relevance because he now coaches the national team of an African country in Egypt. Anyway, Bradley was never known for a boisterous personality or an ability to give breathtaking pre-game speeches to his team. He was never seen yelling or screaming at players on the field during a match. Instead, he was known as a “player’s coach.” In other words, Bob Bradley had a remarkable talent for developing interpersonal relationships with his players, taking the time to understand them each as unique individuals so as to earn their trust and give them the confidence they needed to succeed on the field. Over the course of his time as United States Men’s National Team coach, not one player ever said a bad word to the press about Bob Bradley. With the way that grown men with big egos in professional sports tend to conflict these days, this fact is remarkable. I thought that this little story about Bob Bradley sent a good message and was a good way to finish class.

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