To get the most out of people, give them purpose

Basketball season is just about to start for the second grade girls team I’m coaching (my daughter’s team). And I’ve recently made an important and surprising discovery.

Last year was our first year together – when they were all in first grade. We spent the bulk of the year just learning the fundamentals of the game. Our team has  a lot of talented girls, but as you would expect when you put 10 first grade girls in a room together, focus was fleeting.

We started off similarly this year, and it was sometimes difficult to get everyone paying attention and dialed in to practice. But then something changed, and suddenly everyone is attentive and driven.

They’ve advanced enough in their basics that my coaching partner and I decided to assign them all positions and started introducing plays and picks. It wasn’t the intent, but a side effect of giving them all a position is that they all now have a purpose.

With purpose seems to come focus. Now that they can all see what their role is and how they fit in, they’ve really changed their approach to practice. There’s nowhere near as much fidgeting and talking, and our practices have become really productive.

My observation, or takeaway, from this is that with purpose comes desire and focus. Now everyone understand what they’re expected to bring to the team, and they’re all driven to deliver. Whether that drive comes from wanting to be great at what they do or simply not wanting to let down their team, nearly everyone has really improved their practice habits and, subsequently, their game.

I think this applies to great leadership in the office or wherever else it’s applied. If you want to lead a group of people toward something, give them a purpose or a goal and make sure they understand why what they’re doing is important and where it fits in the plan and they will ultimately be driven to deliver.

Man, you can learn a lot by coaching 2nd grade girls’ basketball.

– My name is Jon Friesch, and I’m still figuring it all out.


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