Discover more from Admired Leadership Field Notes
Over-Coaching Creates Poor Execution
Just like team members, leaders get anxious before critical performances. The intense desire to have the team excel in a big moment can push leaders to do things they don’t normally do. They offer more feedback, more frequently, and talk about the big opportunity just ahead.
This, of course, amplifies the pressure team members experience, creating a team that is too introspective and nervous to perform expertly. Putting major emphasis on an important contest, project or game might seem like the right leadership strategy, but it reduces the fluidity and self-confidence essential for great performance.
Over-coaching is fairly easy to spot to anyone on the outside. Leaders jump in with suggestions and advice on every conceivable issue and want to talk through strategy more than they normally do. As team members begin to freeze up or play tight, leaders double down and gather the team for pep talks. If that isn’t enough, they create new practice drills and ask team members to think more consciously about everything they do.
The result? Team members then freak out on the inside. Whatever confidence they had previously, slips away as they second-guess every move and thought. The result can be disastrous.
The best leaders and coaches approach big moments the same way they prepare for less significant situations. They maintain the same communication patterns and intensity they reserve for unimportant events. They make less of the upcoming opportunity, normalizing it by acting as if it is just another performance. Good leaders express confidence in the team in the same way they always do.
Teams react to this approach by playing loose. The nervous pressure and stress doesn’t build and they are able to perform as they have practiced. Because the leader they look up to is not worried or jacked up about the upcoming performance, neither are they.
Over-coaching employs a tight grip in order to squeeze out a great performance. But just like squeezing a ball or a club, the stronger the pressure, the less leaders and team members control the situation.
Avoid over-coaching a team prior to a critical performance. Winning depends on it.