Why NFL Coaches NEED Executive Coaches

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Ryan Fitzpatrick and Brian Flores

Is Executive Coaching for Professional Sports Critical in 2021?

A few years ago, I had the privilege of spending time with some NFL hopefuls. They were not quite high enough profile to garner an invite to the NFL combine and were still pursuing their dreams through other NFL pre-draft preparatory programs.

When I met with them, it was very important for me to help them understand the difference between the athletic coaches they have had throughout their careers and an effective executive coach.  Some of the key differences I highlighted really came down to approach.  For example, an NFL coach is more like your boss and tells you what to do and how to do it; as opposed to an executive coach that helps you explore different possibilities for solutions and does this in a partnering way, not a directive way.

Another simple example is around accountability where a typical sports coach holds you accountable in a blaming way (e.g. you made a bad decision on that throw, you have to make better decisions); whereas an executive coach will challenge their partners to continuously maintain self-awareness in maintaining accountability to proactively identify other possible decisions that can help them learn to influence better decision making in the future.  This does not mean both the coach and player/coachee are not on the same tea. It means there is a very nuanced difference in terms of growth a professional can achieve in each scenario.

How The Miami Dolphins Could Benefit From Executive Coaching

Brian Flores is currently the Head Coach of the Miami Dolphins NFL football team.  Through this past weekend, Ryan Fitzpatrick was the starting quarterback for the Dolphins.  Before the season began, the Dolphins drafted Tua Tagovailoa and it was clear the Dolphins organization was drafting “Tua” to be the franchise quarterback of the future.  The Dolphins were a surprisingly competitive 3 win, 3 loss football team through this past weekend and Ryan Fitzpatrick had been playing well; well enough by objective standards to not get benched.

So why was he benched in favor of Tua when the Dolphins are in a playoff hunt?

Business (and NFL franchises) make business decisions all of the time.  Sometimes they will be good decisions, other times they will not. While debating this is certainly appropriate for the football community, I would argue the bigger issue is why was Ryan Fitzpatrick completely shocked by the decision?  If everyone knew Tua was drafted to be the quarterback of the future, why was “Fitz-magic” surprised by the move?  The answer lies into the nuanced philosophical difference between the functional job of head coaches and intersection between head coaches being successful leaders.

What Could Happen To Your Team Without Executive Coaching

In the NFL, coaches, players and franchises are basically judged on their ability to win.  There are a lot of factors that go into winning, however, sustained winning seems to happen from certain leaders and not others.  Brian Flores may in fact be an exceptionally talented individual.  Without executive leadership development, I will argue Brian Flores will fail to be anything above mediocre as a head coach, regardless of the talent surrounding the organization.  I do not know Fitz, Tua or Mr. Flores at all and I don’t pretend there are other possible factors we just don’t know about which had gone into the decision and even justifying the decision to bench Fitz.  That said, when Brian Flores has a conference and is upset, the news hits social media before he addresses the team. Instead, he could focused on how he himself handles expressions resulting in communication problems and the potential distraction he injected into his team.  For a team that is in the middle of a playoff hunt for the first time in recent history, this screams for the need for professional development.

In society, some people compartmentalize sports as something different from their everyday lives and business worlds, though the construct of basic leadership applies consistently throughout all professions and all businesses.

How Strategy People Culture Can Help With You Executive Coaching Needs

How does your leadership team handle your people matters?

If it is anything like Brian Flores’ approach, I strongly encourage you to contact us.  Strategy People Culture is a business providing executive coaching specifically focused around leadership development from Vice Presidents through to C-level management.

Reach out today for more information.

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Andy Botwin

Andy Botwin

Andrew (or Andy) founded Strategy People Culture, LLC in 2012 with a passion for working with the interconnectivity between people and business and the fundamental believe in the symbiotic relationship between the advancement and success of both people and business.