How would it feel to be the coach of a winning team? What does successful coaching look like in your business? In coaching, no one is perfect, but how do you deem success? Success is not only just winning the end goal, it’s about improving every person to be better at what they do. Using my coaching philosophy and techniques is a great way to improve people and their behaviour. I'm Graham Arnold. Welcome to Centre Stage.
My career started coaching in 1997-98. I finished playing. I had the passion and the love for the game of football, and I went into coaching and I was assistant coach for the national team. We achieved some unbelievable goals under Guus Hiddink in 2006, and 2010, and I became a head coach from what I learned from those two experiences. So, my career has been going now for 22 years. It’s still ongoing and there’s still plenty more achievements ahead.
Oh, coaching is hugely important. They’re walking out in front of thousands of fans, they’re representing the country or the club, and they’re representing the organisation. So, in anyone’s business, the rules are the same. I might be a head coach, but I'm no different to a CEO, who runs the organisation and makes sure that the organisation has good decision making, good planning, and that all the staff are passionate to achieve what the organisation needs to achieve. As a coach, you always need to be persistent and caring. Players will always try, work hard, but what’s important is your messaging stays the same, your belief stays the same. Think of the long-term goal, long-term clients, long-term relationships, long-term advice.
Some of the personal attributes that make a great coach is communication and listening, but also understanding the person. Be honest to the players, be honest to your staff, and you’ll get that respect back. Over the years, I've really had to change myself as a person first and foremost, and when I first started coaching, I was more of a dictator. It was my way or the highway, where as time has developed and generations have changed, I've had to become more of a father figure of communicating, caring. Listening is probably the most important thing these days because players, everyone has two lives. One is personal, one is professional, and it’s so important that you understand the individual. You care for the person, you care for the player, but also again, helping those players fulfill their dreams and build belief. My philosophy in coaching is understanding the players' strengths and weaknesses.
Their strengths are always going to be there, but the improvement of their weaknesses will make them an even better staff member or player, and making sure that you’re there to support that. You always improve your skills as a coach by learning from mistakes. Don't be afraid if you make a mistake to change things, to fix things, and move forward with another game plan to make it work. Look, I think over the years, coaching has changed enormously. When I first started out as a coach, I was probably good at the technical side of the game and the tactical side of the game and just the pillar of football. But as coaching has developed over the years, I don't think that you can just do one thing anymore.
During COVID, I came up with a Coaching Wheel of my experiences of coaching over the last 20 years. These days coaching is not just about one thing, it’s about managing and coaching eight different things that you need to be good at.
At the centre of the wheel is passion. You have to have passion for all eight parts of that wheel to be successful, that passion and love for the game and for the job, that inspires the people around you to be successful. To use this wheel, give yourself a rating out of 10 for each aspect of this wheel. Don't avoid things that you’re not good at. The strength of a coach is fixing those problems and be open to listen, to be open for advice, and to be adaptable to change. This is relevant on the field and off the field and especially in your business. The four key areas we’ll look at on The Coaching Wheel today is planning and preparation, staff delegation, people management, and crisis management.
Planning and preparation is the key to any success. There is a huge amount of detail that goes into coaching, a daily plan, a weekly plan, a game plan, a yearly plan. And unless you get that detail right, then everything will fall apart.
Having a plan is so important because then everyone can understand their role. If you don't have a plan that’s off the cuff, then people won't understand exactly what their job is. It’s not like we can play with 11 goalkeepers. We have one goalkeeper, one right fullback, and it goes right through and everyone has a certain role to play in the team to be successful.
The most important thing is you get that right with recruitment. Recruitment is a big detail that is so important to a team. Where your weaknesses are in your team, you need to strengthen.
Sometimes people aren't made out for those roles. Then you need to recruit the right people that will make your team perform better. When I first started at Sydney FC as a coach, probably our goalkeeping department was not that great. What I needed to do was get a very good goalkeeper coach in as well as a good goalkeeper, and we ended up with the best defence in the competition. It won us the competition.
Staff delegation is crucial. Everyone has an important role to play in a different way. Trust is the key. You interview them, you employ them, you give them their roles. Once you explain their roles to them, trust them to do the job for you. A great example of staff delegation is not interfering.
The essence of people management is getting the best out of every individual and every person. It’s about caring, it’s about communicating, it’s about understanding and listening, and this is why it’s important, so they perform. They have energy, they have trust. For example, I trust my team. The players fly in from Europe. We don't even get to train twice in that week, but soon as they cross that white line, I have to trust the players to do their job. Sometimes people, staff, players, they look for excuses. Example, boys fly in from Europe, they fly for 24 hours. They arrive the day, two days before the game. I ban the staff from saying, "jet lag", don't accept it. They've got to get out there with a clear brain, get on the field and perform. If you let them talk about jet lag, it goes into the brain, they will think about it and you give them an excuse.
Crisis management is probably what I love most about coaching. You always have ordeals, whether it’s a boardroom crisis, dressing room crisis, player crisis, staff crisis, media crisis, you have to deal with it the first time, the first minute you find out about that crisis and fix it straight away. Whether it’s a boardroom crisis, go to the board, talk to the board, explain to them what’s going on. If it’s a player crisis, get all the players together and talk to them about what it is that they’re not happy about. The benefits of fixing a crisis straight away is it won't fester. If the players, the staff, see that the pressure is affecting the coach, it could really unravel the culture of the team overall. So, what’s important is that the coach stays relaxed, stays calm, also for yourself because you can sleep good at night knowing the crisis is gone.
We've just covered four aspects of The Coaching Wheel. What’s important with The Coaching Wheel is that the eight parts of The Coaching Wheel are the same size. Work on your deficiencies and keep your strengths going.
Everyone is great leaders when you’re winning, the most important time for leaders to step up is when you’re losing. Here are four key lessons to get started on straight away. Number one, communication and listening. Communication is the key, and listening is foundational. Number two, adaptability. Not every way works for everyone. Number three is passion. Passion for your team, passion for the clients, passion for the organisation, and passion for the job. And last but not least, number four is enjoy what you do.