Tag Archive for 'leader'

Juventus is victim of its successes

Juventus seems to be a victim of its own successes (9 consecutive championships won). The team has changed several players, but when you join a club with these results behind you, you can be prone to assume an arrogant mentality, centered on the results of the near past, but not belonging to the present. In this way, you can play a game with a mental approach to wait for the expected positive result, victory. This approach can also explain the mistakes of superficial behaviors committed by Arthur against Benevento and by Bentancur in the Champions League that gave away a goal to the opponents.

A typical mistake of arrogance lies in the condition that the normal rules for this team do not apply. The successes of past years can blind the team, prone them to believe that a winning solution is always available anyway.
Another mistake of this mentality is the belief in one’s own ability to solve games. It is certainly a positive belief, but only if it is coupled with the necessary commitment, otherwise it remains only an optimistic hope.

A third error of this arrogant mentality lies in the explanations provided by the coach, Andrea Pirlo, who interprets, at least publicly, these negative results with some errors of individual players. It is obvious that there have been mistakes, but in a team these errors of mentality of the single players manifest themselves when there is a lack of team cohesion in the commitment with which to face the matches. There has been a lack of player-leaders who must maintain high levels of focus during the game without the game becoming impulsive and too fast.

We need leader-coach

“Always be a first-rate version of yourself and not a second rate version of someone else.” Judy Garland
In these times of crisis this statement is more relevant than ever. It is for everyone, but even more so it is a question to be answered by leaders, those who guide and orient others.

The health crisis has regained strength and if to some extent the world of corporations is going down paths to support their leaders and managers even with the collaboration of the most important consulting companies, in the Italian sports world there is no trace of this mentality from professional soccer to amateur sports clubs. If in NBA specific projects are proposed in order to allow the public to return to see the matches, we ask more superficially to let more people enter the stadium, thus superimposing the goal on the tool. Without explaining how it is safeguarded the health of all. In addition, the quarrel between the different structures of the same sport and the propensity to formulate proposals by “sly” are the other elements that do not allow to formulate documented projects.

Going to the level of the end users of sport, even in this area, to my knowledge, there are no proposals. Coaches and athletes are left alone to live and manage this period of great fear and difficulty. Those who have had to stop and those who work are forced to live this period leveraging only on themselves and as far as I can see from my experience in recent months, the difficulties have multiplied, many have taken a pessimistic or fatalistic approach while more optimistic have leveraged their creativity trying to implement alternative solutions to maintain an active presence.
“We live in fear” is heard more and more often, you no longer have the unconsciousness of the first months of lockdown, in which it was thought that after that period we would return to normal, now we live the anxiety of living a situation that we do not know when it will end and in the meantime we live to the day and every day increase the people we know who get sick.

It is just now that we feel more this social loneliness, which is added not only to the fear of getting sick of Covid-19 but also that any other health problem that we know we will not be treated because the hospitals are in crisis.

In this context we cannot leave alone sports clubs, coaches and athletes from those who are preparing for the next Olympics to young people from soccer schools and all sports, we must not leave alone even people with disabilities for whom sport is an essential activity for their well-being.
In this sense, in compliance with the rules formulated by the government, it would be necessary that starting from the coaches who have the direct relationship with the athletes a concrete support (not only economic) is provided to their leadership to continue to carry out their work on the fields for those who are allowed and at a distance for those sports that have been stopped.

In this period, it is necessary to develop and act using these skills:

  • Deliberate calm and optimism, be confident but aware of the gravity of the situation.
  • Listen and share, the problems and fears of the people we work with.
  • Act, formulate training programs appropriate to the situations in which people live.


Leader’s characteristics when the country is under stress

True leaders become particularly important in times of increased stress. What we are experiencing, with the spread of the coronavirus, is one of these times when those in positions of responsibility acquire greater visibility, must be perceived as authoritative and must make decisions that are useful to the common welfare, showing understanding of the situation in the country.

Leaders are individuals who should be comfortable enough to face difficult days such as those they put at risk:

  • the well-being and health of people for whom they have direct (in the case of companies) or indirect responsibility (in the case of representatives of public institutions, public health and local authorities),
  • the geographical and social environment in which they operate,
  • the sense of social responsibility and the values on which the organization they lead and the interests of all those who support it are based.

Leaders then take decisions in accordance with these three factors, in agreement and sharing them with public institutions and those relevant to him. This requires leaders to have specific knowledge of the present reality, the ability to collaborate with representatives of the other organizations involved, awareness and sense of responsibility of the social value of their work in these moments, to know how to explain the meaning of their decisions and to have knowledge of the results they intend to achieve with these decisions.

Every leader must take decisions, even difficult ones, knowing they must be inspired to keep united the social environment for which they are responsible in their field. These days it is not enough to think before talking. Even before that, it comes: to document and share their ideas with those who have expertise and play a specific role on public health issues.

This is not theory, but enables socially responsible leadership.


How the coaches have to build cohesion

In this early period of the team games season, I am often asked how to improve the cohesion of a team especially by the coaches who work in junior teams and and also not professional teams. I make this distinction because among these coaches there is a widespread idea that having little time available, everything that goes beyond the technical work done in the field is unnecessary work, which we do not have time to do, precisely because: “We are not a professional team, where the players are always available.”

This attitude is the motivation that drives many coaches to believe that the players must adapt to their working method and the hierarchies proposed. Physical and technical/tactical preparation are the masters and if someone doesn’t agree, it’s worse for him/her.

Leadership is essentially manifested in the administration of a training program that must be followed without discussion. They start from correct considerations (limited time, reduced economic resources, not optimal hours for training) to arrive at wrong conclusions. Those who do not accept this approach are usually labeled as lazy, unwilling to make sacrifices or presumptuous.

Unfortunately for them, the culture of work and team cohesion are essential factors in a team sport and are not built with this approach. Team performance instead draws its strength from the daily training of the concept of US: the winning performance comes from the integration of the behavior of various players, teaching more players to do different things well, together and at the same time.

Coach has to:

  1. Encourage participation by listening to the players’ suggestions
  2. Avoide favouritism
  3. Reward altruistic behaviour
  4. Reduce individualistic behaviour
  5. Assign challenging and achievable goals to each player
  6. Assign each player a specific role
  7. Encourage a learning and collaborative training climate
  8. Stimulate maximum commitment and constantly reinforce it
  9. Always support the team when it is in negative momentum
  10. Spend time with athletes to evaluate their commitment to training
  11. Analyse coldly with the team the results of the matches

The question for coaches is: how much time do you spend developing these performance factors?


Immagine correlata

The optimist goes beyond the problems

The research data in favor of leading optimists are quite substantial. These people show that they know how to go beyond the difficulties, perceiving the problems as opportunity rather than a threat. These leaders see others positively, expecting the best from them.

In detail the attitudes of the optimists and the pessimists are the following:

  1. The optimist accepts stressful events, learning something from these situations; while the pessimist does not address situations that can be stressful and displays limited awareness of the problems.
  2. The optimist is focused on the task being done, while the pessimist is focused on the negative aspects of the experience.
  3. The optimist is geared to find the best solution, while the pessimist worries and develops repetitive negative thoughts.
  4. The optimist manages effectively the emotional reactions, while the pessimist escapes the problems exacerbating some behaviors (eg: feeding in an exaggerated or wrong way, showing a state of excessive fatigue, isolating themselves from others or by searching at all costs psychological support).
  5. The optimist addresses the problem situations, while the pessimist would like to avoid them.
  6. The optimist is just centered on physical symptoms (fatigue, headache, etc.), while the pessimist it’s very concerned.
  7. The optimistic plans the future and establish short-term goals, while the pessimist thinks that it will take too much time to improve.
  8. The optimist directly addresses those who question their work, presenting the facts that are contrary to these claims, while the pessimist is persuaded by them and feels incapable.
  9. The optimist interprets the failures in terms of commitment insufficient or wrong strategic choice and not of lack of capacity, while the pessimist attributes them to personal incompetence; believing that if  the next race will present a similar situation he/she will still not be able to deal with the problems positively.
  10. The optimist accepts situations that cannot be changed, while the pessimist looking to get away from these.

The reasons for the rebirth of Roma

The change of  Roma attitude during the matches and  its consequences: best play, individual fighting spirit, strong cohesion and sense of belonging is a positive not only for Roma, first in the championship, but for Italian football. The first step towards this change came from the different organization of the management, clearer, with no overlap in key leadership roles, which led to the choice of the players to be sold and which ones to enter, paying attention to the budgetary needs and to take not only good players but  also with the personality needed to play at a high level. The second step is represented by the choice of a coach not glamorous or philosopher but concrete. From the psychological point of view he is like the classic father’s harsh but fair; so players have felt respected and from this new environment and the interweaving of these relations was born the actual team condition. This result shows that in order to win a team  must have an effective corporate organization and a coach (the team leader) that enhances the players, not excluding them for a personal prejudice and enforcing rules simple and well defined. Only then starts the technical and tactical coaching.

The Guardiola’s rule: make a mistake to learn

A leader is also recognized by the sentences that he says to his players. Guardiola, new coach of  Bayern, said “We hope to make many mistakes so we learn immediately.” Do not be afraid of making mistakes is the attitude of the leader who has a winning mind, because what it is really important is not to pursue the perfect performance but how you react quickly to the mistakes.

Top athletes need the coach-leader

Crucial skill for the coaches of elite athletes is not only to have a technical background updated continuously, but especially the ability to manage the best athletes. They are coach – leader  acting as a leader to conduct them to achieve their best performances.  They are not coach – teacher as they should be with those less experienced.  These coaches talk and make themselves in the shoes of the other to establish emotional closeness. This is necessary because the top athletes have built through their careers a specific profile summarized as follows:

  1. have achieved some of the goals they had set, and therefore are considered successful people
  2. are characterized by the energy and commitment
  3. their skills emerge in a decisive manner in situations of increased competitive pressure
  4. are convinced to be able to deal with most of the situations or problems
  5. assume responsibility for the results of their performances
  6. are perceived by others as reliable and competent
  7. are often considered by most people as young as a model to emulate
  8. derive maximum satisfaction from the continuous renewal of the challenges facing
  9. are driven to find solutions
  10. seek the contribution of people who can help them in achieving their goals

Of course we must not fall into the trap of believing that a good level of effectiveness in these areas will be achieved with ease or that these individuals do not live moments of difficulty. On the contrary, these skills and standards are achieved and maintained through a continuous work, an effort to improve even when it seems far away, pursued even in those days that are frustrating.

When the coach is not a leader

The stories of  Schwazer and Italian swimming both still today in the newspapers show how difficult it is now the coach work even in individual sports. The role of  leader of the pack is not a prerogative of our fellow four-legged, it must also be good for us. When the coach does not play this role and the athletes get out of hand every thing can happen and it is what really happened.   We should learn from Cerioni, the Italian coach of the girls gold foil that he has managed to keep the band together on goal, regardless of the personal relationships between the athletes or listen to the Jamaican sprinters who though opponents have always been among their friendliness and respect. I repeat, a consultant psychologist could help significantly these coaches and many others for whom there is no mention in the newspapers but who commit the same mistakes.