Give It Up. Player/Coach

Transitioning People Through Constant Change

In this series of posts I am exploring the Give It Up model in which we move away from the command and control of manager to the delegation and trust of true leaders. 



Great leaders, like Steve Jobs, are both player and coach. A player-coach is someone who contributes as an individual but also coaches other employees.

Great player-coaches are able to balance their time between playing and coaching. They move up and down the player-coach continuum as needed. They know when to play and when to coach. It is whatever is best for the team.

The coach sits on the sideline during a game and has the responsibility of fielding the best team. The coach inspires and motivates, and develops the skills and capabilities of others while directing the game strategy.

The player is on the field executing the game strategy and utilising their skills and capabilities, to their best advantage in order to win the game. 

There are advantages of being able to move between the roles. Getting on to the field when needed can answer the coach’s question, ‘What is really going on here?’

They can get closer to the action while retaining the coaching perspective. They can be a participant and an observer at the same time.

Steve Jobs coached his employees. He would often spend time with the design teams giving them his opinion and guidance on their prototypes. He was also a player and his favourite part of the job was ‘getting his hands dirty’ on product design.

If Jobs had focused wholly on coaching and not playing, many of the innovations he gave us like smartphones, tablets, digital music etc. may have looked very different or not existed at all.

Great leaders need to be an awesome player/coach.

Game score

Winning teams don’t do great things because they were told to. They have the power to make great things happen. They are free to experiment, create and innovate.

In subsequent posts in this series I will be exploring the additional elements of the Give It Up model.

Karen FerrisComment