Trainers Coaching Tip: Motivate Not Command

When coaching, you are often placed into a position where you are trying to get that 110% from an athlete, client, team, individual etc.  Some people are intrinsically motivated, some are hard working and disciplined, some are aloof and disinterested, some are capable but lazy… The list goes on and on.  Rarely are you granted the opportunity to specifically choose who it is you want to coach. The question then becomes, how can you motivate everyone to an equal degree?

You can’t.

However, that doesn’t mean you can’t increase the motivation of every person you coach during your career.  Keep in mind that by coaching, I’m not just referring to sports.

Finding the correct path of motivation is not a straightforward process

Finding the correct path of motivation is not a straightforward process. Read more at:

If you are in a position to instruct, educate, teach, lead, mentor, raise, rear or push, you are coaching

If you are working with a colleague on a project and you possess more knowledge on the subject, you are now in the position of a coach and you can help him improve his skills. Using that template, you can see a myriad of opportunities to be a coach. Recognizing yourself as a leader even in these small circumstances will help you realize that you have a responsibility to lift those up around you.

Take for example being in the classroom, not as a teacher, but as a student.  Something we can all relate to.  Imagine you are taking a math class at whatever level and you are able to understand and interpret the information the teacher is giving you fairly easily.  You notice that many of those around you are not able to dissect it quite as well.  From here you have a couple of options. You can rejoice in your superior ability to understand and relish in the fact that you will earn a better grade than your classmates. Or, you understand that you are going to be able to do well during the course of this class and make an effort to reach out to your classmates to help bring them along with you.  What’s going to result in a better outcome?  For you, for society, for the school, for the teacher, for the other students?  One results in bitterness, rivalry, separation and an all around lower education to the class.  The other results in an increased education among the class, improved relationships between students, a sense of gratitude towards you, as well as having increased favor with the faculty.

Is it always going to be that black and white?  Of course not, but at the end of the day if you try to elevate those around you instead of try to bring them down, the overall results are going to be a much larger net positive.  I can think of many personal examples of this and anyone who knows me knows that math or at least standard required math always came pretty easy to me. Since 3rd grade I can remember coaching students around me on how to improve their understanding.  Sometimes just hearing the same information coming from a different voice is enough for it to click for someone.  While in college I experienced this to an even larger degree.  I was always able to find alternate ways to come to the same conclusions and was able to teach those around me better ways to understand the information.

This resulted in multiple things:

  • Relationships with people I otherwise would have never met
  • A trust in our class as a whole with each other knowing we were there to help one another
  • Them seeing me as a leader and allowing me to speak for them
  • A relationship with the teacher that allowed me to present my ideas to the class to help them understand what was being taught.

Everyone has different strengths – when coaching, it’s our job to find these strengths and to showcase them

Enhance their value to the people around them and allow them to excel in what they’re good at.  This will increase their confidence as well as their motivation and will improve their relationships with those around them.  If we revert back to sports you’ve probably heard the term “Good Locker Room Guy” many times.  What does this often mean?  Maybe a guy who isn’t the most athletic, or isn’t the most skilled, but who is a motivational leader, who genuinely cares about the team around him and always puts in max effort and increases the productivity around him as he leads by example.  Imagine if you only acquired top tier talent, without any “glue guys” or “locker room guys”.  Sure, you would possess the most talent on the field but you would not be able to get everyone putting all out effort or getting everyone on the same page with the same vision for what the team is doing.  I imagine we can all think of a team or two who had all the talent in the world and weren’t able to do much with it.

This is when it boils down to motivating and not commanding

You can command a group of individuals to do something and those who are already diligent and self-assured will follow that command with full effort. Those who are aren’t self-confident or are distracted or aren’t particularly skilled at what you are commanding them to do are going to put in a lower effort and reduce the overall productivity.  if you are coaching a team, it’s your job to find what they excel at and use practices that allow them to showcase their abilities.  If you have a group of 10 employees and only 5 are good at writing reports, 4 are good at budgeting and accounting with only 1 being skilled at software, what’s going to happen if you only ever ask the team to produce reports and budgets?  The majority will be able to showcase themselves, developing a trust and appreciation for each other while lowering their trust and expectations from the software employee.  You are actively lowering the software person’s value to the team.  You must find avenues for this employees to impress their value to the other employees.  As a coach, it’s your job to manage these waters and to improve every aspect of your team.  Find opportunities or create them, if necessary, to establish that this individual has value to the team as a whole and continue to incorporate ways to remind your team through actions.

          “If you command someone to do something, you may get them to do it, but if you motivate them do something, you will get them to WANT to do it.”

What do you think?