As a coach, we are given the ultimate in leadership responsibility. John Maxwell describes leadership as "influence. Nothing more. nothing less." I tend to agree more with Dr. Donald Christian, Dean of the College of Business at Concordia University Texas, when he describes that leadership "is about two words: people and influence. Of course, the other aspect of that is that one needs to influence people toward something, i.e. shared goals." The most important part of leading, or in our cases coaching, is people. We must not forget the people that play for us and work with us on a daily basis.
"Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now."
-Alan Lakein, Author
The personal touch is just the reason that planning becomes even more important. We must remember that our players at the collegiate, high school, and middle school levels have lives outside of athletics. They are in school to get an education first and foremost. That education is in the classroom and time spent hitting the books, studying, reviewing notes, etc..., but it is also in their social development; spending time with friends and family, developing relationships. We have a tremendous opportunity to teach these young people the value of time management in order to fit all of these things into a busy day. This opportunity carries with it the responsibility to be well organized and have a plan that our players are able to schedule around.
"You need a plan to build a house. To build a life, it is even more important to have a plan."
We must also take into consideration those that work with us and our own relationships. Without a clear plan or schedule, our families and the families of the staff will suffer. You may have a plan, but if it is not clearly communicated early, it will seem to those around you like you don't have a plan at all. This goes back to the definition of leadership by Dr. Christian above, it is about people. Coaching carries with it numerous responsibilities to lives other than your own. Early organization and communication of your plan is a critical component to serving the others in your program.
"Planning is a process of choosing among many options. If we do not choose to plan, then we choose to have others plan for us."
-Richard I. Winwood
I definitely understand that situations "pop up" and we must be able to be flexible. That is not the point of this. The point is to organize, plan, communicate, and execute a course of action within your control as early as possible. This breeds less contempt and frustration within the program. The members of the team are more likely to learn the value of time and be able to manage it. The byproduct of all of this is respect from those involved in your program from support staff to coaches to players and all of their families.
"At first, we couldn't be establishment, because we didn't have any money. We were guerrilla marketers, and we still are, a little bit. But, as we became number one in out industry, we've had to modify our culture and become a little bit more planned."
-Phil Knight, Nike founder
As you and your program become more successful, it is even more important to plan ahead. Flying by the seat of your pants will end up biting you in that same location. When you're on top, you've got to have a strategy to stay on top. A foundation is good, but what you build upon it must be structurally sound in order for it to stay standing. An absence of a plan can produce a sense of confusion, leading to discontent, which ultimately can tear down what you have built.
"Failing to prepare is preparing to fail."