Leadership Tip: When to be a cheerleader, when to be the coach.

Any leader of an organization or school will tell you-cheering on your team is a huge priority. Being the cheerleader for your group is not just an overall morale booster for your team, but it also shows pride in your group and it can be positive press for your organization in your community as a whole. Just like real cheerleaders-when we are down by 20 points, we still yell “we are number one! “. Our message at all times should be emphasizing positive spirit, positive pride, positive actions, positive examples, and positive plans. Even in times of trouble, we emphasize the good in our organization-the students who reported the illegal activities of another student, the improvements we’ve made despite low scores, the dedicated and respectable teachers despite a teacher scandal. This isn’t just PR-it’s true! For every single bad story there’s 99 terrific ones and our job is to promote and support the great things we do. That’s the cheerleader aspect.

Unfortunately, the cheerleader approach is not effective in an internal or one-on-one environment. For the team itself, we can’t expect all communication to be rainbows and sunshine. We need to give a high-five when we accomplish a goal but we also need a fiery pep-talk on occasion. We need someone to enhance our greatest talents and shore up our biggest faults. We need someone with a plan and someone that holds us accountable to take those daily steps to reach the bigger goals. That’s the job of the coach. The coach doesn’t sit back and marvel at his most recent accomplishments or the natural abilities of one of his players. There’s always a looking forward perspective and day personal growth emphasis. Hey coach will never say, “you’re fast enough” or “we can tolerate frequent mistakes”. The coach will always try to enhance, fine-tune, and reduce our shortcomings through practice and accountability.

Schools need cheerleaders AND coaches. More importantly, our team needs to embrace and except the coaching that we offer. With the recent attacks on education as a whole-whether it be TIME Magazine or there is legislative issues that cast teachers in a negative light – there is a need for positivity and pride (the cheerleader). But, don’t expect everything to be roses in the coaches office. It isn’t negativity and it isn’t teacher bashing-it’s high expectations, commitment to excellence, and trusting each other to grow and achieve great things!

So, hang your pom-poms outside your office but leave the coaches whistle on the other side of the door.


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