Jack Welch

JACK WELCH From the Bleachers

Athletic teams many times fall from being champions to the bottom of the heap overnight. Why does that happen?

Teams fall from greatness to mediocrity because of the failure to change and grow. Yes, they encounter fear of changing, uncertainty in their ability, and they doubt their plans. Coaches may fear they do not have enough knowledge to change their scheme. The uncertainty of changing with the times cripples many teams.

Companies are like athletic teams. The Eastman Kodak Company was contemplating bankruptcy. Yes, Eastman Kodak, an industry leader, an innovator, an employer of thousands was on the brink of bankruptcy. What happened?

Was it competition, technology, or management? Did they think they were the best company in the field of photography and would not consider changing, or did the leaders lack the confidence in their ability to continue to grow?

Their failure was leadership. After leadership changed, Eastman Kodak became a leading global technology company.

The way to greatness is to provide solid leadership daily. Regardless of how good your team is, continually push for excellence. See what needs to improve and work on those areas. Praise the good things of each game but define all areas needing improvement and address those areas with the team.

It is important to be brutally honest with people. Truth about player and coaches’ performance should consistently be addressed. Sometimes the truth is painful, and sometimes addressing it will lead to uncomfortable conversations, but it is needed. The only way for people to improve is to tell them in the clearest possible terms what is needed for improvement.

The great NFL coach, Bill Parcells, said there is power in confrontation. He said to get the most out of people, apply pressure. He said great assistant coaches and players respond favorably to good, honest constructive criticism. As a coach, he always tried to turn up the heat under his people, to constantly push them to perform at a high level.

Creating pressure requires candid conversations. It can get very intense and very emotional. It is important for position coaches to be honest with their players.

I believe positive, honest coaches help their players improve the most. It does not need to be negative put downs. Positive coaches sharing with love in their heart will get more from their players.

I assume the same thing is true among the leaders of business teams. Constructive criticism provides an opportunity to get things straight with people. Looking people in the eye and providing constructive criticism improves results. Without this leadership, teams will not change. As the old saying goes, do the same thing and get the same results.

Thought for the week, “Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.” Andre Gide

Jack Welch grew up in Osawatomie. He holds a Doctor of Education degree and has been a college and high school football coach for 39 years. He can be reached at jackwelch1975@gmail.com.

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