Add "Yet"


On my commute home I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts, Craig Groeschel Leadership Podcast. I'm a leadership novice, so most advice in and round the subject is thought provoking. However during one episode (I forgot which one), Craig said something that was beyond thought provoking, it was down-right earth shattering.


As a leader, I am to blame for my team's choices.


Team decisions are the result of communication, training, directives, etc, and those decisions can be traced back to leadership. If the team isn't operating how the leader desires, it's easy to blame the team; "My team of people just don't get it." While in few cases we just might have the wrong people on the team, nine times out of ten it's our, the leaders', fault. Craig suggested a different way to think about it.


When you're leading, add "yet" to the end of your sentence. So "My team won't do X" will be become, "My team won't do X, yet." 


This simple convention shifts the statement from negative to positive. It also reminds us that it's our objective to move our team in the direction we need. It wasn't until coaching soccer that I had to actively implement this convention.

I coach 8-9 year olds. My league blindly puts together the teams - so I have no control over the players. It's really easy, especially when we're 0-6,  to blame the kids: They don't get it; They aren't old enough to understand; They're out of shape. As soon as those thoughts started to form Craig's words came to mind, "Add 'yet' to the end of the sentence."

They don't get it, yet.

To be honest, it was frustrating to take responsibility for my failing soccer team - but the writing was on the wall: It was my fault. After working with them for six weeks hadn't found a way to communicate clearly to my team, nor figured out a way address their weaknesses. I could use my energy to deflect responsibility or accept it and think through solutions - I'm glad to report I choose the latter.

Before our last soccer game, I took each player aside and explained the area of play for each position using a paper soccer field (of course).  The first half was rough, but after reiterating the positions again during halftime, the kids played their best half of the season. So much so the parents commented it was like watching a different team play. We lost the game, but I was the most proud I've ever been: I strove to find a way to clearly communicate with my kids, and it worked.


It's humbling to take on the mistakes of your team, and most rewarding when you turn the ship around.