As I try and expand my knowledge of sport leadership, one element that continues to resonate with me is the concept of outcome goals. Essentially, how important is it for coaches, administrators, managers, or anyone in a position of leadership to emphasize the outcome. In college athletics, and the case I want to talk about today, it relates to winning. Obviously, winning is the ultimate goal. A successful program on and off the field, that does things the right way, wins. However, what seems to be a common misconception that I have found is the importance of stressing the “overall outcome” day in and day out.
For those of you that have played sports, you can probably relate to this message from a coach you have had:
“This year, we want to win the league/conference/division/national championship.” It’s August and training camp has just started, and your coaches are preaching to a team that finished last place in the conference last year that “this is our year, the conference is ours!”. While I’m by no means a coach, I still try to listen to some of sports most successful leaders and shape my own opinion on the best way to get the most out of your team, with my eyes set long term on an administrative role that looks for these types of coaches in college athletics. Setting an outcome goal that early, with a team who has not experienced anywhere near that level of sustained success, might not be the right way to approach it, and can cause a lack of focus at the daily level.
My initial view point was sparked when I watched a conducted interview with Nick Saban on TV. He talked about his experience at Michigan State, and a key turning point in his coaching career when they upset then ranked Ohio State football. Essentially, all week in practice, they took away the overwhelming anxiety of winning. Rather, the focus was each rep, each concept, and each day- to maximize their productivity and focus on how their individual roles can collectively form a team accomplishment. One week later, they won.
Outcome Goals- As I start to shape my own idea of leadership, and what I hope to look for in myself as an administrator, and a coach that I would like to hire down the road, these are the types of people I’m going to listen to. As of now, I think it is best that regardless of the industry, level, type of coach, or sport, do not focus so much on the outcome. Build a culture, lead by example, and set a daily tone within your team or organization that holds people accountable. Take the pressure off by focusing on small goals day in and day out that players, employees, etc. can focus on and really see tangible improvements. Set clear expectations, and when people meet them, let them know. The results seem to speak for themselves…