I am a contributing author to The Big Book of Management. Here is part of my contribution. Contact me about ordering today.
”Management has been defined in many ways. It can mean supervising or guiding a group of people to a desired end. It involves systems and resources and is ultimately about producing results. This, of course, makes sense to anyone who is familiar with the topic. Whether someone is a shift manager at the local mini-mart or part of an upper-management team in a multinational corporation, management is about engaging and empowering people, the most valuable resource, to succeed.
My understanding of management and leadership comes predominantly from the fields, courts, gridirons, and rinks of America. I have been involved in sports since I was in elementary school in Orange County, California, with the South Sunrise Little League. I had coaches that could convince their players to run through a brick wall for them. I had other coaches that couldn’t convince a parched person in the desert to accept free lemonade. For some of us, our earliest examples of how to lead and manage others were parents, teachers, or troop leaders. I understood management and leadership in terms of coaching. Coaches guided people, managed resources, and got results. Management IS coaching.
Coaches come in many shapes and sizes. Some only speak when they see mistakes. Others are like cheerleaders who never seem to run out of compliments. Some expect perfection. Others are satisfied with great efforts. Sadly, the worst just don’t seem to care either way. As a parent of a teen who has played sports for years, I have seen it all. I remember the first time I saw my daughter play softball for a certain coach. Before she came to bat, he said, “Come on, I believe in YOU!” I thought he was very encouraging. This coach was going to be especially supportive of my daughter and bring out the best in her. As the game progressed, I realized that he said this to every girl as she came to bat. “Come on, I believe in YOU!” Game after game, it was the same. Parents started mimicking his patented line. The poor coach lost his team early on because he did not vary his tune. What seemed to be so encouraging had become trite and overused. Coaching can be very frustrating.
As a former chaplain in the National Football League, I experienced four coaches who could not have been more different. From 1995-2005, the Jets went from the bottom of the barrel to consistent playoff contenders. Four coaches guided the franchise from great ignominy to respectability. Each had his style and experienced various levels of success. Through it all, I kept mental notes. The NFL is one of the most highly competitive businesses in the world. Each year the League crowns one winner and has a host of also-rans. Millions of people evaluate a team’s performance in real time. The League is about winning and losing, and losers don’t stick around long. Good coaching is at a premium. Highly talented teams with poor coaching do not win. Teams with average talent and superior coaching can win it all. This was never so true during my time in The Big Apple.”