An Owner’s Manual for You And Your Team’s Success by Kathie Wickstrand Gahen (2003)


Introduction by Jimmy Tierney:

This is the quietest sort of absorbed group that I have ever started to talk with. This is great. I am Jimmy Tierney, one of the ASCA Board Members. I am from Northwestern University, and it is exciting for me to be here to introduce my former coaching partner, the previous head coach at Northwestern. For those of you who don’t know your presenter, Kathie is a former national team level swimmer in the State of Indiana, Riviera Swim Club. She swam under Doc Councilman and had tremendous success as an age group and senior level swimmer. She went on to a great coaching career with a number of very fortunate collegiate programs. Trust me, she was a very, very successful swimming coach. She coached to a very, very high level. AND the thing that I think that makes her the most special in bringing her here to share her gifts and Jim’s gifts with you is her ability to make people smile, to make people feel good about themselves, and to help people get confidence in themselves, which I think a lot of us coaches need. Kathie is good at making us feel that we are special, and that we have gifts to present to our athletes and to the people we work with every day. Kathie again ,has a very special gift, as does her husband, Jim, to help people and make them feel good about themselves, make them feel special and help them to be very successful coaches. Kathie and Jim do this with different career professionals. They help them in their endeavors in life to be successful. We are very, very fortunate to have Kathie and Jim with us here today. So, without further ado, Kathie Wickstrand Gahen and her husband Jim.

Hi – welcome[Kathie speaking]. I am glad that you are all here. Before we start, if you don’t have a form, go back to Susan and Terri and grab a form. While you are doing that, I am going to introduce my husband, Jim. This is Jim Gahen. Jim knows nothing about competitive swimming. Not a thing, which is actually why I believe he is so successful working with athletic coaches. He thinks outside the box, because he doesn’t have a set way of looking at things. Sometimes I believe we are thinking that since this is the way it has been done, we do it this way. Not Jim. My husband is one of the most creative men I know. One of the things that my husband, Jim, teaches me on a regular basis is how to have fun. As you will hear in my talk later on today, that is not one of my fortes. My husband is – I hope I get this right – he is a Certified Professional Behavioral Analyst. Okay, that is a big mouthful. Basically, what that means is that he knows a lot about humans. If you are a coach, you need to know a lot about people. First of all, that starts with you, yourself. You all have a very powerful tool in your hand right now that we are going to make come alive for you. Has everybody got a disk in their hands that they are filling out? Does everybody have one? Okay? So, this is my husband Jim. We are going to give you some time. We are going to give you about five or six more minutes. This should not take you a long time to do. Keep your focus on your work and read through here and then we will get started. Any questions about the directions? Got it? Okay, we will be quiet. Time is allowed to fill out the questionnaire. The questionnaire is known as the DISC Tool (for Director, Interactive Socializer, Social Relator, Conscientious Thinker)

[Jim speaking] We are going to go ahead and get started anyway. So, Welcome. I promise that we are going to make this worth your time and energy. The tool [the DISC Tool] that you have has been around for quite a long time. We are not going into the entire detail of it. The handout you have will have all the slides that you are going to be seeing up here. What we really want for you is for you to have the experience, so, play along – come along. We are going to look at your behavior. This tool is going to show you how you show up, how you can potentially adapt your behavior to win. It will also show you where you are not adapting and what you might consider doing to begin winning even more. We are going to ask you to play along. So, a show of hands from all who are willing to play today. Fantastic!

This tool [the DISC Tool] is going to look at four different areas of your behavior to think about. The first is the D-category – how you deal with problems. The second would be the I-category – how you deal with people. The third would be S-category — what is your pace like. The fourth, C-category is what is your relationship to rules? It is all about behavior. It is not about intellect. It is not about emotions. It is about measuring an observable behavior. A lot of people say: “Well, you know, I don’t like the idea of being pigeon holed.” I do not want to be pigeon holed as a persuader or a conductor or an analyzer either. That is not what we are doing. We are using words like those to support the idea of behavioral characteristic traits. Everybody has the potential to be a winner, AND not everyone has to be like someone else. So this tool, while it will identify who you are at the core, will also give us some insight as to who you are when you put on your game face.

[Kathie speaking] I have to agree with Jim. I don’t like assessments. I don’t like to be told I am something. When I first was introduced to this tool, I had gone to the Colorado Training Center – this was years ago. They used this tool on my whole entire team. We were there training and at the time. Bob, are you still in the room? Do you remember this, Bob? It was Bob and I and Jimmy who were the coaches. The whole team took it. The instructors had somebody who was a high D, high I, high S, high C go out of the room, and they came up with this scenario. They said: “You have just landed at O’Hare airport and you are trying to get to the Northwestern pool. How would you do that?” They had the four of us leave the room. I was one of them, and Jimmy was one of them. At the time Jimmy and I had been coaching together for quite some time, but we were kind of bashing a little bit. We were bumping heads. He wasn’t doing the things the way I wanted him to, and I wasn’t doing the things the way he wanted me to do things. We walked back into the room one by one. I didn’t hear what any of the other people said.

Jimmy walked in and he said: “Well, what airline did you take? Did you drive? Are you renting a car?” He asked all those questions. Do you remember this, Jimmy? And he said: “You know, you go down the escalator, you are going to turn right…” and I mean, it was this real long, elaborate, long tale you know. “You are going to go East on 94, and then you are going to see this Marlboro man, and you will take a right…” and he went on for about 10 minutes, giving directions on how to get from the airport to the pool. I [Kathie] walked in the room and I said: “That is easy. You take a cab.” I mean, to me, it was so easy …I didn’t say it quite that nice either, I added an F in there.

When we took this, what it gave me [Kathie] was a great insight. I quit making people wrong. I quit judging people. What I started to do was to see the differences in people. I began to see how powerful this was, and I saw what a great team we [Kathie and Jimmy] were coaching together because our graphs were completely different. Part of the team had been going to him and part of the team had been going to me, which I used to think was a bad thing. I wanted them all to come to me, you know, because — as you will see soon – I want everybody to come to me. So it was really powerful to see that we could really work together as a unit, and work together. We could divide the things so that I did the things I was good at, and Jimmy did the things that he was good at. I was trying to do everything, and he was trying to do things that he wasn’t good at. So, I hope that you take this information today. The main thing we want to do today is to nurture your nature. We want you to be the best you that you are whether you are a D or an I or S or C. Jim is going to make that come alive more for you right now.

[Jim Speaking]So you have two graphs that look similar to what you see up here. What we are going to ask you to do is to look at your highest graph for the “Most” and the “Least.” Graph #1 is your “Most” graph. This is the graph that represents the mass – this is what you believe would require and allow you to win behaviorally. Graph #2 is really you more at the core. This is you by yourself. This is what we are going to call your Natural Style.

The easiest thing to do is to pick out the high points, and that is really all we are going to cover. I want to emphasize that you are not just one high point. In fact, less than 1% of the population is just one point. You are a blend of these points. However, for the simplicity and convenience of it, we are just going to talk about the Core. We are going to say “Core D,” “Core I,” and “Core S.” Right now, I am hoping everybody has Graph 1 and 2 completed so as to be able to say: “I am a Core D;” “I am a Core I;” “I am a Core C.” So if you haven’t done so – continue to do so. I have a few more things to say.

The beauty of this tool is that when I know that I am under stress, I am going to revert back to my Natural nature, okay? And if I understand that and can see that, that can eliminate some wonderful potential conflicts between me and my wife, or between me and anyone else, or between me and the people who are around me. Just being able to know that is nice. What I have discovered is that everybody has an Achilles’ heel. It is that one person, that one behavioral style that really sort of gets under your skin. You know, for me, I am fast paced. I like to talk on an adventuresome driving pace. When someone talks slow and methodical and in detail, it drives me crazy, so, for me, that is the behavioral style that is my Achilles’ heel. We are going to find out what your potential Achilles’ heel is here soon.

You notice that there is a “D,” “I,” “S,” and “C” on the wall. So let’s talk about the D’s. I am hoping by this time everybody has got their graphs, Graph #2, completed so that you can say: I am a “D;” I am an “I;” I am an “S;” or I am a “C.” Here is what I want you to do. If you are balanced, too equal, pick one. It’s okay. So, right now, here is what I would like everyone to do: Stand up; take your stuff with you because you might want to take notes, so take your graph and a piece of paper and a pen. If you are a Core “D” on graph #2, step up to the front of the room under the D. Use “The Least” – we are asking you to use your least. If you are an “I”, we want you in the back. If you are an “S” in that corner; and if you are a “C”, go over here. And if you are not sure, guess. It is okay to guess. So just to be clear again we are looking for your “Least.” That would be Graph #2. If you are sitting, we are going to assume you haven’t quite made it to have your graphs completed. That is okay. Keep working on it.

Alright, so isn’t this just how life works – it is a little less than perfect. Alright. What I would like to do now is to talk about the “D’s” first, because they are actually waiting for us. They would like us to hurry up because they are quite driven. These are the people who are adventuresome, daring, competitive, self-starters, innovative, persistent. They are in the mood to get something done. Is that right? Their value to the team is that they go to the bottom line. They want to get a result. Let’s get it done. Under stress, they are going to show up as demanding, abrasive, egotistical and nervy. Those are some of their good points over-extended. Let’s realize that their primary emotion, and everybody is going to have a primary emotion, is going to be anger. The D’s are going to be mad. Is that right?

Let’s talk about the “I’s”. Notice, the “I’s” are standing. How close they are! And how much fun they look like they are getting ready to have! They are back there giggling. The core “I” is going to be charming, confident, enthusiastic, polished, and magnetic. You know, these are sociable people who love to have fun, right? Under stress they are going to be self-promoting. That is a possible limitation. So the “I’s” are going to be the ones who love what they are doing. Everything is the experience that they are going to be looking for. They want to have fun. They are going to bring the optimism. These are the people who are going to be trusting and sociable. When they get stressed, they are going to be glib, self-promoting, and talkative. When they get in a pinch, they are going to talk their way through it or attempt to. The most important thing they want is to be heard and listened to. If you have a Core “I” and you miss this, you are going to hear from her or him. Their primary emotion is going to be optimism. It is always going to get better and strangers are just friends I have yet to meet .

Working our way back to the “S’s.” These people are the steady eddies, the amiables, the friendlies. They are patient and relaxed. Look how calm they are, just enjoying this process. Look at that. Take your time. They are understanding. They want to accommodate. They are happy that they are here. They are the dependable ones on your team. They are soft spoken and service oriented. You want something done? They are the ones who are going to do it quietly and efficiently. Now, put them under a little bit of stress, and they may become real non-demonstrative, a bit hesitant, a little bit dogmatic and even inflexible. Their primary emotion (these people play poker like you can’t believe) is a non-emotion. They have poker faces. They can also hold a grudge for a long time and never let you know.

Finally the “C’s” are up there, accurately and patiently analyzing how long they have been standing here. This is the group that is going to be analytical and conscientious. They are going to count things, and it is going to be done correctly. They are going to maintain the standard for the team. They are going to make sure that objectivity is the key, and they are going to want more information. More information. Under stress, it is possible that they may be a pessimistic, picky, fussy or even overly critical. You see the primary emotion associated with the “C” is fear.

So far – so good. Keep in mind we are only looking at one dimension of your behavior right now. You are only one thing. Nobody, in all likelihood, is just one thing. We are a blend. What I am going to ask you to do now, without moving, is to consider this. Your second highest point on your second graph is in all likelihood different from where you are standing right now. So, look to, and point at the other dimensions that we could address. I don’t want you to move there, just look. So, for example, if you are a “D” and your second highest score is an “I”, look over to the “I’s,” so that you begin to see how we are all a blend.

[Kathie speaks] Yes – you see, it is so perfect that an “S” would want that. He wants people to do it right, you know. “S’s” are going to want that.

Now I am going to tell you a little story. Stay where you are right now, okay? So, I was hired by an athletic department once to work with some people who were in danger of being fired because the athletic department had received so many complaints from parents. The athletic department felt
the need to do something, even though they really wanted to keep these coaches because they had been there for a such a long time. So, I was hired to come in and work with them. When I looked at the first woman’s chart, I recognized her her. She had been an athlete when I was at Illinois State. When I know somebody, and kind of even if I don’t, I am going to give them a hug, okay? I looked at her charts and saw that she was a Core C. Now, you don’t go up with a Core C, especially if you don’t know them, and give them a big bear hug, okay? That is not usual. You need to allow these people warm up to you a little bit. Well, when the athletic director came up to me, who I have known for years, I gave him a huge hug. The woman was mortified: like, “Oh, My Gosh – she is going to do this to me.” When I walked up to her, I put my hand out, and I said: “Nice to see you again.” She completely relaxed. Now, she was a high school basketball coach, a Core C with a high D. What that means is she wants to do it right and she wants results, got it?

Now, when you think of a high school basketball team, and it wasn’t a very good high school basketball team, and you think of a coach who wants results and wants to do it right, what do you think high school girls for the most part are going to want from participating on that team? For the most part? Camaraderie, and fun. A lot of them want fun. You get a lot of I’s who go out for sports.

The coach, however, was giving them drills. It wasn’t at all fun. So my work with her was to adapt her behavior. Successful people adapt their behavior all the time. For example, if you are an I and you are not talking right now, you are adapting your behavior, because you have something right now, okay? And you are not talking. So you are adapting your behavior. Some of you would like to have more information than we are going to give you today. You like to ask a lot of questions. Well, what about this, what about that? You are adapting your behavior by not asking questions. We all do it. It is about being who you are, but also knowing when to adapt your behavior.

We are going to pose a little question to you now in your group and then Jim is going to tell you how you can use this with yourself and your team. Okay? So you are in your groups. If you don’t know where to go and you have been listening to us, just go to a group. You are going to get together in your groups. You are all going to face each other and here is the scenario that I am going to give you. You have a minute and a half to come up with an answer. Okay, so are you sweating? Alright, you have a minute and a half. Here is the scenario. (I know all of you coach different age groups, so just say what you would do). The scenario is that you are coaching a women’s team. Your star swimmer has been repeatedly late, and has missed a lot of practices. She is the star swimmer, and she has missed practices. The swimmers know that she is out with her boyfriend, but she has told you that she is studying for a test. But the swimmers know where she is, and then you find out where she is. You find out that she has lied to you, and that the team all knew about it. Got the scenario? So, as the head coach, what would you do with this situation? You have one and one-half minutes as a group to come up with an answer. GO. Short answer. 30 seconds. Start to wrap up. Pick one person who is going to be your spokesperson please.

Okay – everybody turn forward again please. Wherever you are with your decision is perfect. Everybody turn forward. So, who are we going to start with? Well, we better start with the D’s! Yeah, did you hear that? We had better start with the D’s, because the D’s think they have the best answer, okay? And that is absolutely how you think, isn’t it? Absolutely. For those of you who sometimes think: Oh, My Gosh! This swimmer on my team is so egotistical,” you will want to know that a lot of times it is because they are a D. Okay, so D’s, what is your answer? Who is your spokesperson? Come on over here. [spokesperson speaks] “She would have already known that she couldn’t miss practice, because it was outlined at her first day of practice that you can’t miss but X number or you don’t get to be on the team”. [Kathie] So what would you do? She would have already been gone.[spokesperson] She is gone, so it isn’t even an issue. It is a non-issue. She is gone – she is out of there – a non-issue. [Kathie] Easy. Now let’s be really clear: a D loves putting results ahead of people. Let me say that again. Lets be clear. The D’s love to put results ahead of people, okay? Get it done. Absolutely.

You also have got a lot of D/I’s over there. If you are a D/I and a coach, I am telling you right now because I am a D/I, the conflict is going to be: you are going to want results, but you also like people, so you are going to be in conflict with yourself. If you are a D/I, you will be in conflict as a coach.

Okay – next person. okay who is the spokesperson? Oh I love it. [new spokesperson] “OK – we would first of all not let her practice with the team, and after a two or three day period, we would meet with her and the team. She would have to apologize, and then she would be held to a higher standard for a period of time.”

[Jim speaking]:Is that about it? Okay. Notice how charming and politically correct that is? How warm and sociable and trusting.[coach spokesperson] Yeah, she didn’t mean to. We are hopeful this is an isolated incidence.

[Jim] Let’s hear from the S’s please. Who is your spokesperson? Well, that is a funny thing. S’s don’t want recognition, so this is actually a stretch for her to come up here. She would much rather just be a part of the team. [next coach spokesperson] “This actually happened on my team, and it was a boy, so that is why I eventually spoke up. When I found out during practice” [Jim interrupts]– oh I am sorry – now wait a minute – listen to how nice she is going to deliver it – methodical – systematic. She is patient – but friendly. So cut to the chase.
[coach spokesperson] “We found out, so we went to the office right away during practice, so that those kids on the team knew we were handling the situation. We called home to ask for the girl and she wasn’t there. We arranged a meeting with the swimmer first and then with the parents to discuss. [Jim] So what happened? [coach] We didn’t go that far. [Jim] Did you hear the understanding in the approach that the S’s brought forward? The key thing is there wasn’t necessarily a result. There wasn’t necessarily a result, except that you are going to discuss it more. You need more time to discuss it. You are going to talk to the parents. You are going to bring the kid in okay? Very important to hear that. Yes – there you go. Good idea. That is a very good idea. Be very clear about what result you want.
[coach resumes speaking] Alright, I hope I do justice to this. I opened my yap first within the group and I didn’t see any rejection of the idea. We were not prepared to necessarily assume that her teammates were not being truthful, but we wanted her to have a face to face confrontation to be more sure about things. I believe my statement seemed to imply that I was going to kind of hem and haw and take my time. But, I think the general sentiment was either right there during practice, or immediately after, there would be a phone call or a visit face to face. As far as ultimate level of accountability, we didn’t get there.

[Jim] Well, that is precise and we could make a law case out of that. Thank you very much. So you begin to see how each one of the different core types has a different need. The D’s have a need to be in control. You guys are going to have a need to be heard. The S’s are going to need to accommodate and serve. See, they are going to want to follow rules and get it right. What I am hoping that you begin to see is that it is not about right or wrong, good or bad. It is about behavioral styles that differ.

[Jim continues]Let us look at another component. The emotional component. The B’s are angry. They fear being taken advantage of. Now the C’s are also basically afraid, but we don’t know what they are afraid of. We know they don’t want to be criticized for the job or what they are doing. The I’s – you know what? Optimism. Socially, we love you. You are wonderful. Thank you. They fear being rejected. And the S’s are fine as long as we get everything done and we don’t have to change too much. They have a security component, and we are not going to know what emotion they really have going on. D’s are going to get the results. I’s are going to promote the idea. The S’s are going to implement the plan and C’s are going to connect it, and correct it, or at least let you know that something needs to be corrected.

[Kathie speaking] So as you begin to listen to him, do you see how if you have a team of all B’s or all I’s or all S’s or all C’s, you wouldn’t get anything done? It is absolutely imperative, when you have a team, that you have a blend of everything. If you have a board, it is important that you have a mix of everybody. If you have a parent’s organization, it is important that you have a mix of everything. So, when you are a certain thing, you may feel more comfortable being around someone who is like you. Does that make sense? Sometimes, it makes good sense to have an assistant coach who is very different from you, so that if you are result oriented, you have somebody who is going to be better with paper work. If you aren’t going to want to discipline people, it is important that you have someone who will. Can you begin to see that it is not about what so and so just doesn’t know how to do? No, it’s not about that. It is about what is in their nature to do. Does that make sense?

[Jim] Now, if you really want to have some fun, and you probably already do this. Here is a list of the words that don’t particularly work with a D. If you come up to a D and say: “Excuse me.” “Stop.” “Follow my directions, and by the way, let me be heard.” “Let me give you my opinion.” Is that going to work? NO, NO. For the I’s at the same time, saying: “This is going to be a long process.” “It is going to require some study.” “It is not likely to be much fun and there is no creativity allowed.” NO? It doesn’t really work. For the S’s: “We are going to change things.” “Things are going to change.” “Forget it.” “You all know I have been thinking, and I just made this up.” “Let me present it to you. It is a great idea. It is a clever and it’s not rude or anything. I just made it up.” They are not going to like it. So

[Jim continues] Here is another thing that Young came up with. that Half of the room are the extroverts. This half is what we are going to call the introverts. Over there: fast paced. Here: slow paced. There: results orientated. Here: task orientated. There: people orientated. Here: process orientated. As you begin to understand and begin to see that there are so many differences that occur inside of the relationships you have, and you use this tool to see that behaviorally we are all different, you can begin to create some new levels of acceptance, reduce conflict and ultimately bring your strong pieces together. Let me emphasize that the C’s, the S’s and the I’s and the D’s all have strong gifts that are a part of success. As I mentioned also, over-extend any liability any asset and we are looking at some liabilities. Talk too much. Direct too much. Ask too many questions. Agree too much. All these can become liabilities, as well as strengths.

[Jim]In the handout you have, we actually came up with some great tools that you can use to begin to adapt your behavior. If you didn’t get a handout, drop a card back at the desk with Susan Teeter. We will make sure that we email the outline to you. Okay, so please do that.

[Kathie speaking] There are people in the room here who have used this quite extensively with their team. I would like you all to stand up, so if people have questions afterwards or during the weekend they can ask you. So, Susan, Terri, Erica, Garland, Cindy, Gene … Susan, would you mind coming up here? Susan has used this a with her team and I just want her to say briefly some of the benefits that she has seen with her team from using this – just so that you can get an idea of what you can do with this kind of technology. …..( talking inaudible )……

[Jim] Do we have the time? One of the things that we really love about the tool is that it gives people the opportunity, as Susan mentioned, to distinguish behavior from who the person is. It allows you to create a space for you to begin having an appreciation that in order for us to win, in order for us to have a good relationship, we need a blend of everyone here. All parts are welcome, and we are no longer looking at you as mad at me, because the D’s are always mad. Remember, it’s their primary emotion. When you come to a D and they are under stress, they are going to be abrasive. If I know that, I don’t have to take it personally. When I meet a C and they want more information about the report and how accurate it is, and how valid it is, I don’t have to take it personally. That is their nature. When we are able to nurture the nature of the people who we have in our life, we are able to adapt our behavior in such a way that allows us to win — and winning looks different for each and every one of us. What we hold is that winning here is empowering the people who we come in contact with to live an authentic life.

[Kathie speaking] Can everybody get behind that? Living an authentic life? We are just about to close and I am going to ask if you all have any questions. So, does anybody have any questions? About anything? about the disks? Yes, he is hoping he is up the right alley. Did you hear that question? Okay, do you want to repeat it?

[Jim answers] So as I heard the question, it is this: Now that we know our nature and our adapted behavior, which is more important? That we are adapting? Or that we are our natural self within the team? My answer is that it is not so much about changing, that is only a little bit. It is not so much about changing who we are, in my opinion, as it is about accepting who we are. We learn to understand that I am me, and you are you, and there are going to be times when I am going to show up differently, so I begin to take responsibility for my behavior. The point is that there is going to be a time to adapt and there is going to be a time to be the core of who I am. These are different situations, and that is a personal call that you get to make. How wonderful is it that you have the idea to say: “You know what? That is just who I am, and when I get stressed, this is really who I am” – a great question.

[Kathie] And I know you are going to want more information because I can see that look on your face. Okay – somebody else had a question – yes? I saw another hand – yes sir – right. Well, that is because your adapted graph… Do you all have a graph that is adapted? Remember how I said if it looks the same you are probably not under a whole lot of stress. If your graph looks really different and, Coach, yours was very different. Your D went from a fairly low mark to, on your adapted, very high. It was by far your highest one, so that would mean that – exactly – you are coming off to the world as a D – okay? That’s how you are coming off to people, but the core of who you are is an S. Whenever anybody has a big change, and I am working with them, I always say: “So why is it that you are adapting your behavior? Why do you feel like you have to have results?” Well, maybe you work with some pretty top athletes, and I would be adapting my D too if I were you. So, all that says is you would like a slower pace. You would like things to be a little simpler, a little slower, a little not so much stress and it is not like that. Does that make sense? Yeah – that was a great question. Anybody else? Say that last part again – right – correct. Well no, it is not necessarily true. What it means is that I may be adapting my behavior so much that that’s what the world sees, but inside that is not really who I am. All of us adapt our behavior all the time so and it can mean, but it doesn’t absolutely mean, that you are feeling stressed. Does that answer your question? Do we need to wrap up? Yes – thank you all so much for coming and if you have any questions my cards are up here and you can email either Jim or me. Thank you.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Sponsorship & Partnerships

Official Sponsors and Partners of the American Swimming Coaches Association

Join Our Mailing List

Subscribe and get the latest Swimming Coach news