A recent blog article in the Harvard Business Review got my attention. It was entitled, “Nice or Tough: Which Approach Engages Employees the Most?”
Their conclusion was something most athletic coaches do on a regular basis. They concluded the “or” in their question was the wrong word – that it should be supplanted by “and.”
The best leaders in business did both – they drove and they enhanced.
We have known and continue to know in coaching that you have to demand. Competition is tough; opponents are tough; and coaches have to be demanding to make their athletes game-ready.
Think of the best teacher or coach you ever had…… Was he or she easy or demanding? When I ask that question in a presentation, and ask the audience to raise their hands on easy or demanding, the result has always been unanimous. To a person, everyone agrees that the best teacher or coach they ever had was demanding.
We also know in coaching that you have to care about your athletes beyond the narrow confines of an athletic arena if you want to get the best they have to give. You don’t fool the athletes. They know which coaches genuinely care about their welfare and which don’t.
Great coaches do both. They demand and they care.