CARVER Coaching & Performance Newsletter

Hi Paul here,

I hope this finds you well.

The week’s topic is:

Coaching – A Shared Appreciation

A few bits to start…

  • I have decided against another intake for the CARVER Community for Positive & Impactful Sports Coaching for the minute. Currently, I just don’t have the time to commit to another group. I think we will go again towards the end of the year.

    However, if you are interested, I still have some capacity left in my bespoke one-to-one coach mentoring. I like to keep this work pretty flexible and unstructured and shape it to meet the needs of the individual, so give me a shout if you want to chat on this and see if it is for you. In general, I work with coaches and managers across a range of sports, ages and levels. My role is to act as ‘thinking partner’ for the coach/manager and to challenge and assist as appropriate. You will see a short testimonial relating to this work below.

    I have worked with Paul for the past 18 months on a 1 to 1 coach mentoring programme. His expertise, insights, guidance & advice have been a major help for both myself as a person & as a coach. My fellow mentors, & more importantly the players I coach have gained so much from my conversations with Paul & the structures we have implemented. In truth, we have all benefited hugely & I look forward to continuing my work with Paul & seeing where this journey can bring us.

    Barry Williams

A CARVER Insight – Coaching: A Shared Appreciation

Whenever I get approached to talk or present on coaching in a collective setting such as a sports club or workplace, a standard reply is that I like to begin by establishing a shared appreciation of what is coaching. I feel that often this is the only place to start. How can a group of people partake in something in any form of a co-operative manner if they all have diverging opinions on what it actually is? This is not to say that all must alike, because to quote Walter Lippmann:

“When all think alike, no one thinks very much.”

However, the reality is that many people have a limited or limiting appreciation of coaching and this, in turn, severely limits the strength of the collective coaching environment. From strong coaching environments emerge deep and rich coaching conversations, and such places are a hotbed of social learning for the coaches who operate within them. On the contrary, weak or dysfunctional coaching environments are lonely and isolating for any would-be-coach.

Talented coaches are frustrated and suffocated by dysfunctional coaching environments. They have no-one to talk to, no one to bounce ideas off, no one to learn from. The prudent coach wants to learn, and when they are placed in environments that don’t support this, something inside them dies. Indeed, you often see they end up in conflict with others as they seek to improve standards and are met with ignorant retorts by others who are in truth threatened by their ambition and work ethic.

My work has increasingly begun to spread into differing environments, most noticeable in the workplace. Often I will do a workshop or talk in a sports club, and someone will invariably ask if I do such work in the workplace… and so it goes. As companies are challenged to retain staff while increasing turnover and profit, the smart ones realise that their People Managers need to be great coaches if they are to deliver the best possible results through others.

Last week I was fortunate to spend the day with store managers from Harry Corry Interiors. Harry Corry is a company that places a very strong emphasis on coaching among their staff and their people appreciate its value. What resonated with me on the day was the strength of the coaching conversations. It was evident from the discourse that the people had a true appreciation of the craft of coaching and from this emerged great insight and learning for all. There was a shared appreciation of coaching among all participants, and this provided the conditions for learning.

“It’s the economy, stupid” was a phrase coined by James Carville in 1992, when he was advising Bill Clinton in his successful run for the White House. In 1992, the US was experiencing an economic recession and the incumbent president, George H.W. Bush, was perceived as out of touch with the needs of ordinary Americans.

Carville told campaign staffers to hammer on the importance of the economy at every chance they got. He even went so far as to hang a sign in the campaign headquarters reading, in part, “the economy, stupid.” The phrase became a mantra for the Clinton campaign.

This week I have found myself ruminating on this logic and wondering about the potential effectiveness of a sign such as, “It’s coaching, stupid” being placed in a coaching environment. Obviously ‘stupid’ is a harsh word, so I ask you to take my thinking with a grain of salt. With this said, it cannot be denied that it would be stupid of us not to create environments which support and encourage healthy coaching practices and conversations. For me, the best place to start this is by creating a shared appreciation of coaching. I learned the true value of this last week when I sat with Harry Corry store managers. The work that had gone on beforehand in laying the conditions for coach development afforded me the opportunity to simply facilitate the day in a way that people could learn from each other, and that is the highest level of coaching.

We continually talk about ‘the environment’ as it pertains to the player or athlete, but we rarely discuss it as it pertains to the coach. In short, better coaching environments lend themselves to better coaches and better coaching. The answer to most of the challenges we meet as coaching is good coaching. I see clubs and coaches looking externally… looking for the solutions elsewhere. What if we had environments where the coach was told by their peers, “The coaching, Stupid” and this was taken in the way it was intended and the people worked together to find the solution through the only available avenue… the coaching… stupid!



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