Episode 3 – Brave Questions

Your Sports Resource

In this episode, Renata discusses Brave Questions that Leaders of youth sports clubs should be asking themselves and of their team in order to build a great culture. These questions help everyone grow and ensure your team is being valued and that everyone is adding value to your membership.

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00:00:03 Introduction

This is the Your Sports Resource Podcast, where each week we’ll discuss strategies that you can implement so the operations of your club, support your coaching staff, and the direction of your organization.


We are committed to excellence in youth sports leadership. Let’s get started.


Hello everyone, and welcome to the Your Sports Resource Podcast, this week I thought I would shift a bit into leadership, or leadership self-reflection and evaluation.


Now, this is for anyone who is responsible for others. So, Bored Presidents, Head Coaches, or any other Coaches that have people reporting into them. It could even be project leads or goal leads that have a set of volunteers reporting into them.


So, you’ve probably heard about engagement surveys in the traditional corporate world, but for your average nonprofit organization, engagement surveys don’t typically happen.


For those of you who haven’t heard of engagement surveys, these are anonymous surveys that are sent out to all staff members so they can provide full and transparent information on how the organization is doing, how they’re how they’re working, how they’re meeting the staff needs, and how they’re meeting the customer needs.


There’s usually alignment questions, so do you as an individual have similar values as the company? Would you recommend them as a good place to work? Then there’s questions about a person’s role and their feelings about their longevity in the role or longevity in the organization. And then, there’s usually or typically a group of questions that are about the management of the organization. So, not just that your direct manager that you reporting to, but even higher up.


So, engagement surveys, if conducted and received for the intent to learn, solve issues and help you grow as an organization and is, can be just an amazing tool.


However, for your average nonprofit and especially for a youth sports nonprofit that might be a bit overworked or too big given you might not have a lot of staff.


But I would like to suggest that the President and the Head Coach or any staff that has people reporting into them, ask some brave questions of those they’re responsible for. Questions that allow you to grow and provide your people with what they need so they can not only grow but be successful in their own roles. If they are successful, then you are successful as a leader or manager.


Now some Head Coaches may be asking why they need to do this and when I’m working with clubs, I try to impress upon them that they are not there just for the specific athletes. Typically, Head Coaches may only focus on your top elite athletes, right? So, that 1980 style of coaching is no longer or should be no longer.


If you want your athletes to perform across the entire club, so all athletes. Then, you must focus on investing into your coaches. You must elevate them through proper training, guidance, support, and excellent communication. As an example, let’s say you are a club that has 300 athletes, and you have six coaches reporting into you. If you invest in the six coaches, then improvement will be across the board to those 300 athletes. However, if you only invest in the group of athletes, you coach, and then maybe one other coach, well, that’s a limited amount of success you will see over the year. Hopefully, that makes sense.


So, if you want to improve, you have to ask for feedback. Those giving the feedback need to feel safe in doing so. So, if you have enough staff, you probably could go anonymous, but either way, anonymous or not, you need to reassure your staff that you’re asking the questions so you can be a better leader.


And then, you need to be open to what is said to you and you should make the appropriate adjustments. Notice I said appropriate. Your actions must support the club’s vision, values, and behaviors, and they must always serve the membership.


But making adjustments to make them better is a good thing, so please any feedback you get should not be taken as an attack or wielded against those who gave it to you. If you do that type of thing, then you know you’ll lose the trust of your people and your success as a leader will be diminished.


So, let’s get into the questions that the Board President, Head Coach, anyone who has people reporting into them can ask. I’ve got six questions, so let’s start with question one.


What is the thing you see me doing that’s helping me best contribute to the team? And, by the team, I don’t mean athletes. I mean those that who reported to you.


Now, this might sound like a self-serving question, but it’s important to get confirmation on what is working well. Not only that, but it will help you provide insight on where you might be able to do more or expand on what you’re doing well, and maybe you can apply those same principles somewhere else.


For example, let’s say the board president gets feedback that they are always organized, and they ensure that other board members are completing their tasks on time, or working diligently on any work or projects that they’re delivering.


That’s a great piece of feedback, so maybe to expand on that, the president can share their process of staying organized and how they follow through with another board member who might be leading a large piece of work. This will allow them to learn and learn the same tactics and they can just adjust them to make them their own. So, they too, are successful.


So, understanding what you do well provides reassurance, and let’s face it, sometimes with no feedback, we are our own worst enemy and we think we’re failing or not doing something right.


So that feedback reassurance tells you that what you’re doing is working and then it also allows you to build on that success or duplicate it somewhere else.


OK, I’m going to repeat question one. So that was, what is the thing you see me doing that’s helping me best contribute to the team?


All right question two. What is the thing I do that’s detracting from our success?


this one is one that can be very difficult to answer and to hear, but this one question right here can be pivotal in building trust, transparency, and growth for everyone involved. As a leader don’t you want to know what’s not working and how your behavior or actions, or inaction can be detracting from your team’s success?


Yes, you might not like it, but if you are a true leader then you understand that you are there in service of those, you’re responsible for, which means the only way you can be a successful leader is to know what’s not working.


Now let me explain what I mean or what I meant by, how this is the one question that can be pivotal in building trust and transparency. If you can honestly take the feedback on board and make adjustments, then your team feels like they have a voice in the overall success and you get to improve or grow and do better, which elevates your relationships and creates a great culture.


So, two things, too often we let ego get in our way, well but, right? The ego will always find a reason to not hear what is being said in its truest form. We all must improve, or we fall behind. Whether you believe the feedback or not.


And second, I’m not saying you have to take on and adjust every piece of feedback. If you’re honest with yourself, then you recognize true opportunity for improvement, and then you can go from there.


So, let’s repeat question two, what’s the thing I do that’s detracting from our success?


All right, I’d like to take a moment to talk about how you can improve the direction of your organization and how the board and the head coaches can work together.


Sometimes clubs need an objective individual to work with them to pull things together for you. My consulting services do just that. My approach to working with youth sports clubs is to work in a way, where you have a game plan to implement right away. I stay away from theory; fluff drives me insane. I’m there to work and to ensure that your Club can move out of old mindsets and sameness and move into running your club like the business it is. Working together. Moving from surviving to thriving with options.


Send me an email and we can schedule a no-obligation call where we can just discuss your areas of concern. That email is info@yoursportsresource.com one more time, info@yoursportsresource.com


All right, let’s move to question three. What’s one thing I need to know about you that will improve our relationship?


Great question. By asking this question it allows your employees the opportunity to express key facts about them that will help your working relationship. They could tell you about, how they like to learn, or what their preferred work style is. This gives you the opportunity to take advantage of that knowledge, or at the very least be aware of it.


So, if I were to use the way. Your team learns as an example, you might have one that learns by doing, one that learns by showing, and another that learns by reading.


So, while you may not be able to accommodate all of those different learning styles, you’ve been presented with the knowledge that, if you have a difficult concept to deliver that you probably should present it in at least two different forms. So, be aware too, that when you ask this question, you may receive personal information that they want you to know, like they’re a family man, or that they love geocaching on the weekend. If you don’t know what that is, look it up. The point here is that through this knowledge it builds your relationship and understanding of each other.


Let me repeat question three, and that is, what’s one thing I need to know about you that will improve our relationship.


Question four, what is one thing you need from me that will enable you to be successful?


This question is slightly different than the second one, and that question two was about the action, and this question, question four, is about the inaction. So, what am I not doing that you need? The feedback from this question is similar to two, in that it allows you to grow.


Additionally, as a leader sometimes we make assumptions about our teams. We assume that they are getting things elsewhere or that they already have specific knowledge or experiences in other areas. So, we make a leap due to our assumptions and it can be a simple leap because we have that knowledge and experience as a leader.


And this is where miscommunication may come in because you thought someone else, or another area was providing detail and you were working on that assumption or the same thing as you thought they already knew the background and you were working on that assumption.


Again, a great question to find gaps, or your gap specifically. So, let me repeat that question one more time, so question four is, what is one thing you need from me that will enable you to be successful?


Question five. What’s one gift, skill, or talent you have that I’ve overlooked, undervalued, or underutilized?


Now, this could be a huge game-changer for you and your team. There is bound to be at least one person on your team that can help you gain efficiencies. Someone who can do something you have been struggling with, or you may find that you have someone who you’ve hired for a specific role, but now that you know they’re real gifts or skills, you can put them in a role that provides better value for the organization and gives them the opportunity to feel valued.


I’ve seen a lot of organizations look outside for skill sets, before asking their own staff if they have the required skill sets. Look within, find efficiencies, utilize people to their strengths. You can only do that by ensuring you have a clear picture. So, ask the question.


So, question five again is, what is one gift, skill, or talent you have that I’ve overlooked, undervalued, or underutilized?


Alright, last question. Question six, what motivates you and how can we bring more of that to your work?


Ever heard of the saying a motivated employee is a productive employee? When we do hear that statement, we think that the motivation has to come externally. Like, how can I motivate somebody? Which is not a bad question to ask yourself.


But honestly again, you will just be making assumptions on what you think motivates that person. And I know there’s old-schoolers out there that feel, well, the fact that they have a job or, if they want to keep their job, that should be motivation enough, but that’s not probably working out very well for you. If you have that mindset.


This question not only asks for what motivates them but asks for suggestions on how that can be implemented in the work-life, and that’s important.


So again, you don’t want to make assumptions by just what motivates them. Have them tell you on how it can be brought into the work-life, and it’s not a guarantee, but it is an opportunity.


If you have a way to bring forward excitement and positive attitude, then why the heck wouldn’t you look into it? I bet most of you immediately thought about money when I asked this question.


And there’s always going to be people who want some type of financial gain for motivation. OK, sure everybody has that, but adults are no different than children. Most of the time they just want to be recognized. I was looking at some statistics and 63% of recognized employees are more likely to stay at their current job within the next three to six months and productivity increases by 31% when employees are happy.


I believe the feedback from this question is really the icing on the cake. So that question number six again is, what motivates you and how can we bring more of that to your work.


All right, so there you have it. All the questions that can and should be asked no matter what leadership role you hold.


The feedback and lessons learned will elevate you, your team, and then by nature your athletes in your club overall. You can find these questions in tool form on yoursportsresource.com under the board and committee member section. However, it applies to coaches as well. That’s just where I’ve put it on the website.


In upcoming episodes, we will discuss planning your fundraising efforts and what the duties of care, loyalty, and obedience have to do with the effective leadership of your club.


Thank you for listening and please subscribe, rate, and review this podcast. You can also find more resources on yoursportsresource.com. And you can also write us at info@yoursportsresource.com


Thanks for spending time with me!