Difference Between Effective and Successful Coaches Essay

Pages: 11 (3481 words)  ·  Style: Harvard  ·  Bibliography Sources: 8  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Leadership

Essendon Coach

Successful vs. Effective Coaching: Essendon Football Club

Organisational leadership is inherently challenging. In any context, it is incumbent upon the individual in the leadership role to select the style of leadership best suited to his or her skill set and likewise the style best suited to the group or organisation in question. The dilemma driven by the need for such a selection underscores the discussion hereafter. Contextualized by the world of professional sports and by the responsibility of coaching, the following discussion aims to outline the distinctions between effective coaching and successful coaching. Using both personal experiences in the sport of rugby and the professional sporting example of James Hird, coach of the Essendon Football Club, the following discussion will consider five major distinctions between effective and successful coaching.

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TOPIC: Essay on Difference Between Effective and Successful Coaches Assignment

Before proceeding to a more rhetorical discussion on Hird's role as a leader within his organisation, it is appropriate to provide some basic background on the context and coach. James Hird is in his third season as a head coach in the venerable Australian Football League (AFL), where the head coach is both a figure held up to accountability for the overarching performance of the team and is often an individual for whom much accountability must fall where engagement of the public is concerned. Before being named head coach of the Essendon Football Club in 2010, Hird spend the better part of the previous two decades serving as the organization's leading player personality and face. Widely considered one of the great players to ever enter into the game, Hird was inducted into the AFL Hall of Fame in 2011. According to the write-up which accompanied his induction, Hird spent his entire career with the Essendon Football Club and is thusly often nicknamed Essendon's favourite son. As Horan (2011) reported on the occasion of his induction, "a veteran of 253 games spread over 16 seasons, Hird won five club best and fairests, three Anzac medals, a Norm Smith medal and a Jim Stynes medal as well as playing in two premiership sides in 1993 and 2000. Picked at a lowly No.79 in the 1990 draft and the last of 52 players chosen on the Essendon senior list, Hird admitted coach Kevin Sheedy's decision to keep him allowed him to live he's dream." (Horan, p. 1)

Hird's experiences as an extra-ordinary player and league luminary, as well as his relationship with coach and mentor Kevin Sheedy, would help to forge a coach from the player. As the discussion here will demonstrate, Hird's relative newness in the field makes him an interesting figure for examination, even if the sample size available to us remains relatively modest. In order to engage this topic, the discussion below will use the Essendon Football Club as a context and will examine its head coach James Hird as a primary subject and an exemplar of an effective coach. My personal experiences will be used in some instances as a counterpoint and a demonstration of successful coach.

Effective vs. Successful Coaching:

Person Centered v. Results Centered

One of the recurring notions in our research is that effective coaching is inherently a more interpersonal mode of leadership than is successful coaching. This is because the emphasis created by the coach in question will center less on the individual as a player than as a human being. According to the Sports Education and Leadership Program at UNLV (SELP), "successful leadership has been defined as the ability to get others to behave as the manager intends them to behave. The job may get done, and the coach's needs may be satisfied, but the players' needs are ignored. In effective leadership, the athletes perform in accordance with the coach's intentions and, at the same time, find their own needs satisfied." (Youth First, p. 1)

This denotes that successful coaching takes an ends-justify-the-means approach to utilizing player personnel. While this may potentially lead to positive outcomes on the field, it is often a poor way to manage morale, our research suggests. The example of James Hird is instructive on this point and reflects the humanist impulses of effective coaching. In his Hall of Fame induction speech, Hird recognized a number of the attributes that helped him to succeed in the profession in spite of the decidedly modest level of fanfare that accompanied his initial entry into the sport. Hird would state in his induction speech that "I always thought that was all I wanted to do and a lot of hard work paid off. I had a lot of very good people around me who kept me positive and motivated and successful." (Horan, p. 1) This attitude demonstrates the determination that the coach believes is required for a player to succeed in the league and, more importantly, that support from others is a critical aspect of finding and sustaining this determination. This has served as an essential part of Hird's orientation as he has worked to gain a foothold as Essendon's head coach.

Indeed, Hird's players have publicly acknowledge the distinct ability of the coach to keep his charges motivated through stretches of mediocrity and struggle. According to the article by Ashton-Lawson, Bombers star player Jobe Watson stated his team's commitment to the coach and the motivational skills that he has shown in keeping them afloat through difficulties. According to the article, "Essendon has been struggling this year, with a 65-point loss to Collingwood at the much-hyped Anzac Day match their fourth loss from five games. That prompted Essendon legend James Hird to plead to his former club to play some hard, attacking football. Hird wrote in today's Herald Sun that the Bombers need to get back to their old style of football by improving on skills, motivation and courage. Watson said today that Essendon club legend Hird's words are sure to inspire his struggling side. 'you have to look into the mirror and see if you're demonstrating the type of things that he's talking about and I think that'd be motivation for a few players,' Watson said." (Ashton-Lawson, p. 1)

Perhaps more than any other source of evidence, the degree of commitment voluntarily demonstrated by his players is as telling of his preference for effective coaching. This also stands in stark divergence from my experiences as a youth rugby competitor. As I recall, my coach was motivated entirely by the notion of successful coaching, and therefore tended to distribute playing time with a heavy favouritism that often produced positive results on the field but left many lesser skilled players idle. As one consequence, many of these players felt a lowered morale and a sense of detachment from the team's success. More troubling was the fact that so many of these lesser skilled players did not receive the attention and experience to gain significant ground.


As demonstrated above, goal-orientation will play a significant role in successful coaching. However, this goal-orientation will often be defined in a narrow and unilateral way. For instance, this goal may be strictly defined as the achievement of a winning record, a league championship or the longterm sustainability of competitiveness. Given however that in the context of sports none of these things is guaranteed nor can any of these things be sustained forever once attained, morale can be negatively impacted where no other ways of defining achievement exist. This is why effective coaching is often a preferred orientation.

According to Mallett (2005), "effective coaching is the achievement of goals that are shared by all stakeholders, and which are bounded by time and place (quality of players, available resources). Therefore Lyle (2002) proposes that, coaching effectiveness should be judged by evaluating instances of specific coaching performance;" (Mallett, p. 7) Here, two important distinctions of effective coaching are identified in the sharing of goals (as opposed to the service of a coach's goal) and in the evaluation of isolated performances as a way of framing attainable goals. This is an approach demonstrated amply by Hird, who again demonstrates his tendency toward effective coaching strategies. For instance, Hird's tremendous experience in the game has provided him with a unique capacity to help his players navigate the extremely frustrating waters of loss. According to an article by Estrop (2012), the Bombers have struggled in the late rounds of the season in both of Hird's previous two seasons and have endured a slump for the third consecutive June month. However, Estrop points to the positive management that Hird has conjured from these events. Hird notes that 'we want to rebound from last week after a disappointing loss,' the Bombers have been quick to move on after last week, with the spirit among the group at a season-high according Hird. 'We moved on pretty quickly as our boys have been very good most of the year,' he said. 'We'll leave that game in isolation, learn what we need to learn out of it.'" (Estrop, p. 1) Finding ways such as this to place losses into context, rather than to blow them out of… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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