55 Ideas for Better Swim Team Management


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55 Ideas for Better Swim Team Management

by John Leonard

One of the recent additions to our Level 5 Leadership School is an extensive section on “Selling.”… how to use your communication skills to help others solve problems for themselves. We include that as one of the most meaningful leadership skills a coach can develop and we will continue to expand that section over the years, because coaches are constantly “selling” their ideas, whether it is an idea of training harder to young swimmers, an idea of why we have to swim this set of 12 x 400 IM upside down, backwards and underwater with no breathing, or selling a team trip to Cincinnati, or selling the idea of a new training pool, or selling the idea of a new assistant coach to your board, or selling the idea of city support for your recruitment drive… well, you get the idea.

The flip side of leadership is MANAGING. Management is what you do after you have sold your idea and now you have to make it work! Here, culled from a variety of management books, are fifty-five ideas on better managing your organization. Feel free to call ASCA at 1-800-356-2722, if you need any clarification, want to get more details, or want to ADD an idea of your own to this list.

  1. Stand behind your people in times of stress and conflict.
  2. Return phone calls quickly…be responsive.
  3. Be especially considerate of those who interact with the public all the time. They have a tough job.
  4. Dress for success. Look like a professional and you’ll be treated as one.
  5. Improve your oral communication skills. Practice. Use a video camera to see how you come across to others.
  6. Praise in public, criticize in private.
  7. Be humble in victory and gracious in defeat.
  8. Spell and pronounce names correctly. If you don’t know how to pronounce a name properly, simply ask, “I’m sorry, I don’t want to mis-pronounce your name, can you tell me how to say it properly?”
  9. Have someone you can confide in and mutually “unload your problems” on. Be careful whom you select.
  10. Don’t surround yourself with “yes” people.
  11. Surround yourself with people who augment your own skills and don’t duplicate them. Strive for a “complete” staff.
  12. Know when to advance and when to retreat. Don’t “have to win” every argument.
  13. Schedule free or quiet time regularly to plan and do that rarest of things, THINK.
  14. Be an active listener.
  15. Encourage and reward risk-taking in others.
  16. Be a mentor to someone on the way up.
  17. Invest time in training your staff. Nothing pays off more.
  18. Celebrate the personal and professional triumphs of your staff.
  19. Use “We” not “I.” Unless you swim in the meet yourself, accomplishments belong to the team, not the coach.
  20. Look at every problem as an opportunity. What can you do with it to overall improve your situation?
  21. Cut down on paper. Do more face to face communication. Experts say up to 80% of real communication is done with body and facial language. You can’t do that on paper.
  22. Network with people outside swimming. Get into Rotary Clubs; etc., to meet the business people in your community. They solve problems every day that relate to your situations.
  23. Invest in the continuing education of your staff.
  24. Use K.I.S. (Keep It Simple) whenever possible.
  25. Learn to say “I don’t know” with accuracy, candor and without embarrassment.
  26. Be a positive role model of any behavior you want.
  27.  What ‘Gets Measured, Gets Done.’ Learn to become a good measurer.
  28. Learn how to say “no.” And say it nicely.
  29. Understand your own metabolism. When do you work best? Do most important tasks at the peak time for you.
  30. When you must fire someone as a last resort, do it quickly and mercifully. Sometimes it is best for your organization and the person.
  31. Be proactive. Go directly at your problems. Its never as bad as the anticipation of it is.
  32. Conduct an honest self-evaluation each year.
  33. Follow through. Follow through. Follow through. Become known as someone who does what they say they will do.
  34.  Don’t be reluctant to toot your own horn. But not too loud or too long.
  35. Make sure that ideas and plans flow both up and down in your organization. What people own, they take care of.
  36. Seek first to understand, then to be understood.
  37. Start and end things on time. People plan their lives around your swimming schedule. Allow them to rely on you.
  38. Walk the Talk.
  39. Recognize that what is right is not always popular and what is popular is not always right.
  40. Answer questions and question answers. Get more information. Get the same questions answered from different sources.
  41. Be on time for appointments. Being late means “my time is more valuable than yours.” Is that a message you want to send?
  42. When in doubt, trust your gut.
  43. Smile, especially when those around you are in doubt. Confidence is contagious.
  44. Timely and honest communication is critical in times of stress. NOTHING is more stressful than lack of information.
  45. Be careful about accepting “quick fixes.” Bandaids do not cure disease.
  46. 80% of what you accomplish comes from 20% of what you do. Concentrate on the 20% and try to expand the amount of time you spend doing it.
  47. Differentiate between things that are important to the others in your organization and what is important to you. There is a time and place to concentrate on each. Learn what those times are and act on them.
  48. Bring more humor to work…..laughter is a great medicine.
  49. High performance comes from a full tank. Make sure you get enough Rest, Recovery and Re-Creation to be at your best a high percentage of the time.
  50. Become a good “scan reader.” Look for ideas you can use, outside the field of swimming. Creativity comes from a full subconscious.
  51. Remember, friends come and go, but enemies accumulate.
  52. Be decisive. Do something. Be action oriented. No endless cycles of study and debate.
  53. Place the needs of your family over the demands of your work. No one on their deathbed ever said, “I wish I’d worked more.”
  54. Take your responsibilities seriously, but don’t take yourself too seriously.
  55. Deliver more than you promise.
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