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Trust: Communication Is Key

Adapted From CCL Newsletter

To see real change and gain significant benefits from their strategies, leaders (be it head coach or assistant) need to establish an environment of trust. Leaders who are trusted — even in times of great difficulty — are skilled communicators.

When leading in times of change and transition – new head coaches, assistants moving to a new school and staff – remember communications fundamentals including these:

  • Communicate relentlessly. Communicate information, thoughts and ideas clearly — and frequently — in different media. Find many ways to share information; keep processes open and transparent.
  • Listen. Good communicators are also good listeners. Allow people to air their gripes and complaints. Pay attention to what others are saying, thinking and feeling. What is said, and what is left unsaid.
  • Explain. People are often skeptical of change. Share your thinking and the trade-offs you’ve weighed — not just the final decision or strategy.  Involve everyone in the process.
  • Articulate expectations. Clearly explaining why, how and when things need to happen will set expectations and create a healthy level of stress and pressure. It also establishes a mechanism for monitoring and addressing performance.
  • Be visible. If you communicate well, you won’t be out of sight. Find ways to interact with all of your stakeholder groups – staff, student-athletes, administrators and supporters.  Be willing to roll your sleeves up and get in there and work with them.
  • Confront problems and conflict. Don’t postpone dealing with challenging issues or conflict. By avoiding the difficult people or difficult issues, you can do great harm to yourself, your team, your staff and your university.
  • Be honest and sincere. Communicate truthfully and honestly, follow through with what you say and avoid deception.
This article was also aided from the CCL publication Leading With Authenticity in Times of Transition.

Leading with Authenticity in Times of Transition,  CCL Press,  2005

Kerry A. Bunker and Michael Wakefield

Organizations today are awash in change. Managing change requires leaders to focus simultaneously on managing the business and providing effective leadership to the people. More often than not, it is the focus on the people side that loses out. This book offers a framework for understanding the issues and competencies that contribute to effective leadership during times of change. Its purpose is to help leaders determine how to choose and move among a variety of managerial approaches — to help them see what’s working, what’s not working, and what’s missing. In this way, leaders can more clearly assess their impact and learn how to meet the demands of both managing the business and leading the people.

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