Power vs Leadership

I recently had the opportunity to be a member of a 4-person crew (a team) that sailed a 53’ Amel sailboat from St. Maarten, in the Caribbean, to Long Island, NY… we traveled about 1400 miles in just over 9 days…

st maarten

Prior to the passage, I wrote about it in this post – Taking my own advice… I Can Do More!

Why did I do this?

VOLUNTEER to do this??

Because… It had an element of excitement…. I wanted to improve my sailing skills… I wanted to challenge myself… I wanted to prove that “I could do it”

Probably many of the same reasons students decide to join your program… most make that decision prior to their 9th grade year… and it is a voluntary proposition for them as well.

Although I came into this “team” with some sailing experience, I was by no means an expert…. I was not ready for “The Bigs

Again, probably akin to 9th graders skill level when they join your high school program.

There were three of us on this team (with various skill levels) and one “coach” (the captain and owner of the boat)… making a total of four crew for the passage to New York.

The “Coach” (our captain) was, of course, by far the most experienced… the most knowledgeable… had the skill… had the “game plan”…

And here is where it gets interesting… he had the POWER.

I would venture to say that, as Coach, you are in a similar position with your squad.

My biggest takeaway from this trip had nothing to do with sailing… it had to do with leadership… specifically leadership from a position of power.

Let me begin by saying that our leader was a good captain. The boat was meticulously maintained… he was very knowledgeable… and very safe. I never once felt at risk during the entire voyage.

But there is a difference between being a good captain and a good teacher/ coach.

The three of us on his team had volunteered for this venture… adventure… to learn and gain experience… that was the bargain… he was getting free crew, and we would benefit from his teaching/ coaching.

I did learn… but lets say the experience of crossing the ocean could have really been enhanced (for me) with a different teaching and coaching style from our captain.

Let me explain.

As I mentioned, I am not an expert sailor… none of were as experienced as he was… he knew that going in… submitting our sailing “resumes” was part of the procedure.

In the same way, none of your young players are as experienced or knowledgeable as you, their teacher and coach… and that is your expectation… that is a given.

What I found out, being on the opposite side of this dynamic, was how much inherent POWER the leader has… and how you use that power can have a tremendous effect on the people you are leading… your team.

I can tell you that for pretty much the entire 1400 nautical miles, I (we) felt pretty inadequate… and I firmly believe that was his intention. He felt the need to be in power… and wanted us to feel dependent on him.

And he did it fairly innocuously but nefariously.

He did not yell, scream, or berate us… but in this type of relationship, it does not take much to rattle your confidence… a roll of the eye… a particular voice inflection… a facial expression… all had the same, calculated effect… conveying (without ever saying) that…

I know more than you…

I will always know more than you…

How can you not know this…

I am better than you…

You have a lot to learn…

I am a pretty confident guy… and have a strong personality.

At the end of this trip, my confidence was shattered… and not just my confidence regarding sailing… I was whipped… and I never have felt whipped… beaten… in my life!

So I started thinking about the kids that I teach… the players that I coach.

They are in the same, subservient role… even more so.

They are kids… young, impressionable, unconfident, gawky, fragile… kids.

I do not ever want any of my students or athletes to feel broken.

I want them to feel the opposite… confident, powerful… STRONG.

I am confident that this experience will help me be a better teacher and coach.

I Can Do More!

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

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