There are many books and articles about the ‘Reflective Leader’. But what about the ‘Reflective Player’? Surely knowing when to be stubborn and when to conform is just as useful to a team as encouraging leadership within players.
As informed coaches we know transformational leadership suggests aligning the authority with where the knowledge or expertise is. (A great visual explanation of this is here, a former US Submarine captain discusses his experience with transformational leadership.)
Understanding how each player performs best is often written off as the mark of an exceptional coach, a skill seen as unattainable for the majority. We can change that by sharing the responsibility, sharing the risk and sharing the success.
A key part of implementing an effective transformational culture is promoting self-reflection. All members of the team must be accurate and honest with thier reflections. Only through this openness can the players know themselves, their abilities, their limitations, their moods, their instincts. Once the players have mastered this internally they can apply this externally to their teammates. A reflective process is personal and requires a lot of trust to share with others, even teammates. It is therefore up to the coach to support this culture of sharing and how to do so will be different for each team. My advice is start together, ask the team to each research and select a reflective cycle. For example I often use Kolb’s reflective cycle (1984), I prefer this older model to more recent ones because I like adapting its simplicity for whatever situation I am in.
Next week I will review a specific example of reflective learning literature but I stress the need for this to be a personal experience, particularly for a coach.