Courtesy: Dan Dingman, Commit Swimming
Preface: If you disagree with this article, please comment on it and explain why. If you agree with this article, please comment on it and explain why. We want to know what you think. And when you share your opinion, tell us what your role is in the swimming world… are you a coach, swimmer, ex-coach, ex-swimmer, parent, ex-parent, fan, etc.?
As a swim coach, do you spend more time as a manager or as a leader?
You probably raised your hand and said;
“A leader, Dan. I’m a leader”.
And, you are a leader. But…
Ok, before I get to the “but”, you need some context. I promise you will learn what the #1 mistake is and what comes after “But…”.
Don’t worry – we will get there. First, some context…
Here’s the thing, in business, a manager is involved in the operational details of the company.
If you are a manager, you focus on how to do things more efficiently and effectively. you manage processes. You put systems into place. You give feedback up and down the chain of command.
As a manager, you accomplish the task at hand and you are really good at “leading” others to do the same.
The tricky thing is, being a manager is not the same as being a leader.
“But Dan, you just used the word ‘leading’ to describe a manager!”
Yes. Yes, I did.
You can easily get confused between the managing and leading. Which is why I wanted to show you how leading people down a pre-defined path is not leading at all.
Leading people down a path is actually “managing” under the guise of leading.
“Ok, I’m getting bored, Dan. What the **** does this have to do with swimming?”
You’ll figure that out in a second. First, back to the difference between a manager and a leader.
In business, a leader determines the direction of the company or project.
If you are a leader, you focus on choosing the right goals for your team at work. You instill a vision for the future in yourself and your colleagues.
You are good at doing this because you can clearly see the potential end result.
You are an expert at beginning at the end. By beginning at the end, you can back into the direction of the company or project. You can determine if the team is working on the “right” things.
You know and understand that it doesn’t matter how fast or far you run if you are running in the wrong direction.
Here’s the thing, you need both managers and leaders in business. Just like you need both managers and leaders on the pool deck.
My question to you is – “Do you spend more time managing or do you spend more time leading?”
I’ll answer for you.
I am telling you that you almost definitely spend too much time managing. And you probably call it leading in your head. But, it’s not.
The fact is, that is the mistake you are making.
And, it’s a shame because you already are a great leader.
You should be getting better results as a coach.
Listen, by no means am I saying to “stop managing” your swimmers.
You need to manage your swimmers. You must manage them.
You should be correcting technique. You should be planning and tracking your training regiments. You should be focused on the efficiency and effectiveness of your team’s workouts.
What I am saying is that you are a natural leader as a coach. But, you are not leading enough.
You already know how to lead, and you still don’t do enough of it.
You should spend more time thinking through the vision for your team, thinking through the vision for each individual swimmer.
Start with the end in mind.
You will see that this end is different for each and every swimmer on your team.
You will find that the fact is, you don’t spend enough time re-evaluating the path that you are leading your swimmers down.
Simply leading them down the path is not leading. That is managing.
Leading is constantly evaluating the path, visualizing the end, and backing into a better path.
You are a leader. Now go lead more. Lead more than you manage.
-Dan from Commit
Shameless plug (or anti-plug?) for my product, Commit Swimming
Commit Swimming is a tool you should use to “manage” your team’s training.
But please don’t use any tools to help you manage anything until you get in the habit of spending more time leading.
Once you have that locked down, then start your free trial on Commit.
Commit Swimming is a SwimSwam partner.