Emotional Intelligence is just Trust
I am skipping over the tactical piece for a couple reasons. The first reason being that this area is the easiest to master because it's just content (i.e. how to squat), and this ability tends to be a strength with most of our software users who are very application-centric. The competency of emotional intelligence is far more challenging, but it really boils down to one goal; trust. Trust is critical for the athlete-coach relationship, but first the staff must trust each other.
A great quote on such culture is from the book, The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else in Business, by Patrick Lencioni. "When there is trust, conflict becomes nothing but the pursuit of truth, an attempt to find the best possible answer." Patrick goes on to explain that you can gauge a culture by observing the staff meetings.
At Sparta, an observer of meetings would likely see a family holiday dinner scenario, an air of disagreement that is rooted from trust amongst the people in the room. We argue over details like the best place for the entryway doormat just as much as the ideal squatting percentages for the athlete. We believe you must have these tough conversations to get clarity, to ensure everyone is on the same page. Specifically, the room must come to a consensus, by an obvious unanimous choice or an opportunity for staff to convince others that their proposal is the best solution. This leads to individual growth and clarity amongst the staff but more importantly, the clarity ensures consistent and convicted messages are delivered to the athlete, building trust in the coach-athlete relationship.
Most sports organizations and departments avoid these discussions because it is uncomfortable. Avoiding tough discussions are often shrouded by the rationale of just not having enough time. Yet we all know that not having enough time is translated better by the label "low priority". The problem of avoiding group discussion and conflict is that separation continues to grow amongst departments; whether it is dissension amongst different sports or silos between department of medicine, strength & conditioning, etc.
I remember having lunch with Trent Dilfer a year ago, and he explained how important it is to just get comfortable with being uncomfortable. He explained that he often encouraged others to recognize this discomfort and just "swim in it."
So at Sparta, we follow a few major avenues to ensure alignment within the staff.
*paper reporting is outdated as soon as it is printed!
Overall, we are just uncomfortable together...comfortably.
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