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Six Strategies for Leaders to Support Change

In coaching, the only constant is change. Nearly every coach will eventually hit a point in a season or school year where change is coming or needed.

According to board-certified family physician and TrueSport Expert Deborah Gilboa, MD, “If you want to lead through change, you’re going to have to be mission-focused, you’re going to have to lean on empathy even when you disagree, and you’re going to have to have good boundaries about what behaviors, tone of voice, and timing are acceptable to you,” she says.

Here, Gilboa shares more advice on how you as a coach can help empower your students to be true leaders on the team, and navigate big and small changes.

Understand your role

Whether you think about your role as coach or the role that your team captain plays, Gilboa points out that leadership is rarely needed in the absence of change. When you ask a student to run the team through the usual warmup drills because you need to handle something else, you are not asking them to be a leader, you are asking them to serve as your proxy. Gilboa explains that leadership is about humans working to make fundamental change to the status quo. This can be on a micro level—changing the warmup drills to something different—or on a macro level—fighting to change a school policy.

Bring students to the table

If you want students to support change and become true leaders, bring them to the table. That includes having conversations with your team regarding changes in school policies and bringing a student representative to leadership meetings. “This is probably one of the most powerful ways to start bringing change to a team,” says Gilboa. “When talking about leadership with a Gen Z team, which is what all coaches are doing now, it’s important to understand that this generation has been taught to advocate for themselves, and they are offended when people try to make decisions for them without their representation. You do not have to turn decision-making into a democracy by giving them a deciding vote. However, you do need to give them a voice. Bringing them to the table does that.”

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Issues & Advice Coach, Club Admin TrueSport