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7 QUALITIES OF SUCCESSFUL COACHES
The Qualities of a Leader What are the qualities which a leader should possess? There have been many attempts at listing the many good qualities which a leader should possess, and cataloguing those undesirable characteristics which he should not possess or should minimize or eliminate. Such a listing often serves only to discourage the aspirant to leadership, because, in summation, they seem to describe an unattainable ideal. However, a goal toward which to aim is necessary, if one is to shape his efforts in self-development so as to gain a satisfactory measure of accomplishment in preparing himself to lead, to guide and direct the efforts of others in any field of common endeavor. The qualities of the leader may be grouped according to different methods. They may be separated into personal characteristics and professional capabilities; they may be classed as physical, mental, and moral qualities; or they may be considered as those qualities related to the leader himself, and those related to the individuals whom he aspires to lead. Merely to enumerate the desirable qualities of a leader would accomplish little. But a consideration of some of these qualities will serve to illustrate the characteristics which we should watch for in others and which we should strive to develop in ourselves in order to prepare ourselves to be better leaders. No quality is more important than loyalty. It is essential in both the leader and the follower, for it works both ways from the individual, and loyalty down is no less important than loyalty up. Loyalty begets loyalty, and an evident sense of devotion to the interests of his followers on the part of a leader is assurance of faithful and willing cooperation upon their part. Too often is a realization of professional ignorance and lack of self-confidence manifested by an attempt to conceal these faults by vague and complicated orders, explanations, or conduct. The best results in the performance of a task are obtained by simple and direct methods, where the end to be attained and the means to that end are first clearly understood by the leader and then, through his efforts, clearly understood by his men. No one can lead others until he can properly control himself. We are quick to realize the mastery in the man who can master himself. A sense of the appropriateness of things, of when and how to act, is an invaluable lubricant to the conduct of human relationships. When tact is lacking the military machine soon develops friction and is less efficient. Sympathy, kindness, generosity, and a consideration of the rights of others are all bound up in the exercise of tact in procuring the cheerful and whole-hearted performance of a desired action by others. Inaction in the face of a situation requiring positive measures is at once productive of failure. Capability without industry cannot result in success; but many a mediocre leader has succeeded through sheer energy and perseverance. In this truth lies the hope of the vast majority of us in our endeavors to lead others in the accomplishment of a common end. Enthusiasm breeds enthusiasm, and fires others to efforts of which they might otherwise not feel themselves capable. No man is beaten until he admits defeat, and impending defeat has often been turned into victory through the energetic and enthusiastic inspiration furnished by the leader. Common Sense, Judgment, Acumen. It has often been said that common sense is one of the most uncommon attributes of the individual. But the exercise of common sense and good judgment is in large measure the foundation of active leadership. Knowledge is the background of common sense and judgment. Acumen denotes quickness of perception, keenness of discernment, sharpness in deduction, and ability in clear discrimination. The leader who can promptly estimate what his fellows will do under a certain set of circumstances, and who then can make a sound decision based upon the conditions as he sees they will develop, possesses qualities which place him upon a high level of leadership. Sincerity of purpose, like enthusiasm, in a leader is soon transmitted to those whom he aspires to lead. Zealousness does not require a superior manner, but a conscientious willingness to go more than half-way in the solution of the task in hand. A sense of justice and a determination to deal fairly and impartially with all others are essential in any one who would control and lead others. The degree of respect, of admiration, and even of affection with which their faith in him is measured is in a very large measure determined by his possession and exhibition of these qualities. In little things even more than in big things does the demoralizing effect of partiality or unfairness make itself felt. Justice does not, however, necessitate domineering, bullying, or blustering tyranny. Such measures are destructive instead of remedial. Nor is it necessary or desirable, in order to be fair, to be over-lenient, lax, or cajoling, for these qualities in the individual set to lead will quickly corrupt an organization through its lack of respect for his ability and qualities. Even a fool can tear down, but it takes a man of mind and character to build up Willingness to Accept Responsibility. A willingness to accept responsibility is the foremost trait of leadership. Every individual from the highest commander to the lowest private must always remember that inaction and neglect of opportunities will warrant more severe censure than an error of judgment in the action taken. The criterion by which a commander judges the soundness of his own decision is whether it will further the intentions of the higher commander. Willingness to accept responsibility must not manifest itself in a disregard of orders on the basis of a mere probability of having a better knowledge of the situation than the higher commander. The subordinate unit is a part of a tactical team employed by the higher commander to accomplish a certain mission and any independence on the part of a subordinate commander must conform to the general plan for the unit as a whole. In order to have a willingness to accept responsibility, the individual must have initiative and vision. Many a cause has been lost through lack of foresight and vision on the part of those charged with the responsibility of planning the course to be followed. Many an action has bogged down in failure because the one in charge did nothing. An early edition of the Field Service Regulations stated: In drill, for example, it is necessary to think ahead, to plan the next movement, and to be prepared at the proper time to give the necessary order. Organizations and groups of individuals often exhibit an inertia similar to inanimate matter and tend to remain at rest or continue in the same direction unless a controlling influence is exercised from without by the leader himself. Imagination and creativeness of mind are attributes which facilitate the exercise of initiative and vision. These qualities are much to be sought for and developed in the follower as well as in the leader. It is a comforting thought to know that a task allotted will be well and surely performed, and the leader who knows that he can depend upon his subordinates is well served. Likewise, for those who follow to know that their leader will not desert them and that he is bending every effort toward their welfare and devoting every fiber of his being to their benefit is to call forth from them the last ounce of eager, loyal, and whole-hearted cooperation. Decision, Resoluteness, and Perseverance. The ability to decide to act and then to act has characterized all successful leaders of history in whatever field of endeavor, and their success has been measured directly by the clarity of their decisions, the determination with which these were executed, and the tenacity with which they clung to their purposes. All this takes willpower, firmness, and the courage to follow the course decided upon. After-thoughts are dangerous, except as the aid in the execution of details of the original plan. Honor, Uprightness, and Truthfulness. Honor is an inherent quality in every human being, savage or civilized, young or old. It has its roots in self-respect and pride, a virtue as old as mankind. The morale of the individual and of the organization flows directly from the right to stand bravely and honorably among others. While truthfulness is not instinctive in the individual until the guidance of intelligence intervenes, mankind reveres the truth, as always, and our daily life is based in a very large sense upon reliance in the veracity, as in the dependability, of our fellows. Truth and honor do not make the leader; without them he does not exist. Courage, Moral and Physical.
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