As another football season approaches one head coach offers a lesson worth emulating.
After an extremely successful run at the University of Central Florida, culminating in last year’s undefeated season and #6 ranking in the Associated Press final poll, head coach Scott Frost returns to his alma mater at Nebraska this season in the same capacity for the Cornhuskers.
Freelance and SEC writer Andrew Astleford penned this article about Frost:
“Emotions can run high in football. It’s not uncommon to see a coach express his anger by yelling and cussing at players.
But at Nebraska, don’t expect to hear heated, vulgar language coming from coach Scott Frost and his staff.
In a recent news conference, Frost explained why he won’t ‘yell and scream at kids.’ He also mentioned his staff won’t ‘cuss at kids.’ It’s a thought-provoking theory for coaches at all levels of football.
‘One of our sayings is, ‘Have a desire to excel and no fear of failure,’ Frost told reporters, as relayed by KOLN-TV’s Dan Corey. ‘Part of that is the coaches’ responsibility. And I mentioned that we’re not going to yell and scream at kids, and we’re not going to cuss at kids. I don’t think that’s the right thing to do, and I also don’t want to make kids afraid to go make a great play.’
‘If someone misses a tackle or drops a ball, they don’t need to be yelled at. They need to be taught the right way to do it so it doesn’t happen again. And once you take away that fear of what might happen if you make a bad play, it really frees you up to go make great plays.’
Coaches approach their work in ways they think will get the most from their players. But Frost has a point. If players aren’t afraid of making mistakes, then that might allow more memorable plays to be produced.”
Many of us who participated in athletics perhaps had a coach who was a yeller or screamer. Maybe their vocabulary was a bit “colorful.”
I considered Frost’s credo in a larger context beyond football and sports, however. Salty language can pollute a work environment. Friendships can be destroyed when one or both speak inconsiderately. Discouragement is a poison to wives, husbands, sons, and daughters.
Years ago I was on a trip with a team of economic development professionals eager to attract business expansion and growth to our region of the country. Admittedly I’ve heard my share of exploitive exchanges in my day, but I was especially taken aback by one of our colleagues where seemingly every sentence was punctuated by a vile adjective, verb, or noun. Growing wearisome, I called him out. I’ll never forget his response: “The people we’re dealing with seem to like it.”
The best supervisors and leaders I served under possessed certain common traits and characteristics. For one, they had self-control. When you made a mistake they called you into the office and counseled you one-on-one. I found no anger at them, but more at myself for having disappointed someone I respected. Still, they talked to me in such a way that fear did not consume me.
They also had a certain aura, decorum, if you will. They were a “teacher,” a person whose behavior you would aim to mimic. They accepted responsibility for their actions, admitting poor decisions and crediting team members when things went right. They were humble.
At work are you an employee who is selfless, congenial, and quick to lend assistance? If you run your own business is an ethical standard being applied such that there is not even an appearance of impropriety? In relationships what proportion of the time are you listening and how much conversing? And, what is the content of that discussion? Do others more fear or emulate you?
I wish all of my responses were affirming and positive. They are not. Others watch us. With that reminder, who possesses some traits that I can model? How about a certain coach in Lincoln, Nebraska?
I don’t have a particular football team to follow this fall. But, I will be watching Scott Frost and rooting for his success.