This past Monday we celebrated President’s Day and I reflected on lessons coaches can learn from my favorite president, Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln is my favorite president because of his leadership, toughness, humor, and humility. All Americans can learn quite a bit from him, and this week I’ll takes lessons I’ve learned from the reading I’ve completed on him and apply them to coaching.
The first lesson is to welcome different points of view. In Doris Kearns Goodwin’sTeam of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, she explains how Lincoln surrounded himself with people of different points of view. Lincoln asked his ex-political rivals to join his cabinet and help him during his presidency. The ex-rivals grew to accept, love, and admire Lincoln and his leadership. They were able to speak and advise without fear, and that is because Lincoln truly valued their opinions. In the coaching profession, one must welcome differing opinions and not shy away from them. Often times it is hard for a coach to hear something that is not within the same line of thinking, but many times it helps. Many times we as coaches are afraid when game planning or making halftime adjustments to hear or implement strategies that differ from our line of thinking. Coaches should surround themselves with assistants who are willing to offer a different viewpoint. Assistants should be encouraged to have and bring up differing views and ideas. When this occurs, the coaching staff becomes prepared for different scenarios and can put the team in the best possible position to win. This can often be difficult because it involves a willingness to check egos, but it is necessary in order to maximize potential.