This weekend I had the chance to sit and watch a few games on TV, and as luck would have it, I was fortunate enough to catch games that featured my two favourite coaches in sport – Pete Carroll (of the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks) and Jurgen Klopp (from Liverpool in the British Premier League).
Part of the reason I like watching these teams is the chance to watch both of these coaches at work on the sidelines. And watching the two of them back-to-back on the weekend made me realize that the two coaches had a lot in common.
Naturally, they are skilled coaches that understand the game and they are extremely smart tacticians. But most coaches in both the NFL and the Premier League have those skills.
For me, Klopp and Carroll offer so much more, and it is the unique qualities they have in common that make them endearing figures on and off the sidelines:
- They love the game – you can see it in their eyes, and their movements. They feel every hit, every kick, every player movement. They are there on the field and it brings them joy.
- They love the challenge – they are both positive people. Problems are seen as challenges or opportunities. They are truly energized by the next obstacle.
- They love their players – it is not uncommon during games to see them laughing with players, hugging them after plays, and truly interacting with them during the game.
- Their players love them – on and off the field, to a man, players are devoted to both of these coaches. They talk about these coaches in a different way than players from other teams. There is clearly a bond on these teams that goes beyond tactician and tool.
- They exude energy – and that is an understatement. Both can be seen bounding up and down their respective sidelines. Their energy is infectious and it rubs off on the players (and the fans).
- They are not afraid to show their emotions – to the players and to the fans. In most cases, that emotion is positive, but it doesn’t matter – whatever they are feeling – you know it!
- When things go well they showcase the players – how many coaches do that nowadays? They are comfortable in their own skin and they don’t need the accolades. Their focus is on giving credit for their success to the players, and the players appreciate that.
- When things go badly they accept the blame – in the same vein, they understand how to protect their players. They don’t throw them under the bus when things go wrong and on both teams, problems are dealt with behind closed doors within the family.
Both Klopp and Carroll have built more than a team. They have built a family within the team and it is reflected (and protected) by the coaches in charge.
I was watching this on the weekend and I started to think – this shouldn’t just be a sport analogy. Wouldn’t you want to work in a business that was managed in the same way?