Most leadership and support structures in professional team sport are set up for failure. Although head coaches have their assistant coaches to lead certain aspects in training -- it is not what will prevent them from failure.
Most recently one of Germany's top soccer coaches resigned after a 5-game losing streak in the German Bundesliga with the following statement "It is now time and the best decision for the club and the team to bring in change. I do not have the feeling any more that I am the perfect coach for the team."
Club officials said that their coach is "unfireable" and refused strongly his resignation as a first response before the coach went to the media and made his decision official.
This German soccer coach and many other coaches in European and North American pro teams are without any doubt the best in their industry -- they understand the game, tactically and technically, they are brilliant strategists and can analyze their opponents, they have a special sense when to bring a new player when the game is at a tipping point, they can see the talent in young players and how they can fit in the club structure. They can teach sports content! So what is missing then?
"Context Support" is a highly undervalued professional service that a few teams and National Sport Federations are slowly implementing. Context Support helps to bridge the gap between the athletes and coaches and makes sure that all team members are at the same wave length.
We often hear in official resignation statements that the coach couldn't reach the team anymore, that there was a disconnect and a misunderstanding that ultimately lead to incoherency within the team players -- therefore to a series of losses.
Your best "Context Supporter" is a conduit between the coaching level, the players and the organization. This conduit is not an additional soccer coach (in this example) but a Mental Coach. The Mental Coach creates a compassionate environment so that all playing aspects (content) are understood and can function. A disconnect between players and the coaching staff is not unusual in amateur and pro sport. It is an art to deliver solutions to the coaching and player's level to reinstate synchronicity which is the pre-requisite for excellence. The Mental Coach is not an undercover agent that delivers secret information to the "head quarter". It is a position with the highest level of integrity.
Good is not good enough anymore
The next level in pro sport embraces an inclusive approach on all levels within an organization aiming to fully understand those comprehensive and multi-facetted connections. The head coach has too much on his plate to understand how every player ticks. Beside of his technical focus, he must represent the team in front of the media on a daily basis -- and he has his own life (we must not forget this aspect).
Coaching public leaders, successful entrepreneurs and world-class athletes for several decades has proven multiple times that loneliness is very common among leaders and high-performers. Very lonely. Too big is the fear of showing weakness in front of a camera. Vulnerability doesn't fit to a leader and not to a pro athlete in the eyes of the public.
Organizations must question their inner structure and implement experienced individuals that are aware of a dysfunctioning context and able to reinstate synchronicity on all levels.
Everybody must have the "feeling" of being understood and valued. A compassionate environment creates more power and effectiveness than any other outside tool that seems to "do the job". Compassion is within. It can be felt and it can be leaned by each team member.
We must also understand that coaches, managers and players are not bullet proofed. Life has a toll on everybody of us. And that also includes brilliant coaches. A great income does not automatically shut off the voice between their ears.
"Coaches must be willing to ask for help and to receive help in order to do a great job and to be at their best -- every day."
Organizations must ask for professional help to build a strong foundation within their people structure. Compassion is the glue to connect athletes and coaches with the club structure. The Mental Coach remains neutral with a high level of integrity and outmost level of professionalism to ensure a high level of coherence within each individual context.
Understanding each person's innate value, each needs, strengths and weaknesses and individual response to stress is important to integrate tools and techniques to build a strong organizational context in which athletes and coaches can flourish and outperform.
Three days after the German soccer coach left the team, the players regained trust and faith in their own abilities and won their next game and first of the season 4-2. And players had back their smile on their faces. They were able to put the right feelings into their game.
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