What’s most important Coach or Job Description?

What’s most important? – Getting the right Coach or getting the right Job Description (JD) first?

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The article announces the appointment of the new Queensland Bulls coach, Phil Jacques.

As can be read in the article Phil has a very strong playing record.

I coached Phil for a short time while he was in and around the Australian Cricket team. He was a batsman & fieldsman with an unusual technique but one which he had made work for him.

Phil was a relatively quiet contributor to the team environment, preferring to let his performances do the talking. I found him to be a person who was quite reflective, a very solid citizen, and reliable. His partner at the time was an elite sportsperson in her own right, and I think the relationship was helpful for both as they faced their respective challenges in elite sport.

Phil continued to play a lot of first class cricket in New South Wales and in England once his international career stalled, and has subsequently moved into recent coaching stints in England and Australia.

It does seem a very quick transition from being a player to becoming Head Coach of the Queensland Bulls. There are many examples in the various sporting codes that suggest a more comprehensive apprenticeship is beneficial to either a longer term coaching career, or gaining and sustaining results with a team, or indeed both.

AFL recognise this fact these days, and whether it is based on research, or anecdotal observation, they have instigated a coach mentor program for the new generation of senior coaches. I, along with people such as Ric Charlesworth, John Worsfold and Neil Daniher will be mentors to approximately 16 coaches who are on a pathway to becoming head coaches in the next few years.

AFL astutely recognise that their prime product, the AFL competition, needs to remain relevant, exciting, and appealing to existing fans as well as attracting new supporters. One of the central roles to achieving these outcomes, is coaching, and in the AFL competition, the head coach. By proactively providing the new breed with a range of skills, knowledge, experiences and opportunities before they step into the role, the AFL gives these coaches best chance of succeeding. And of course, if the head coaches succeed in the various clubs, the AFL brand will not only not be eroded, but also will be enhanced at the same time.

Most sports are slow to recognise the critical importance coaching plays in brand development and delivery – i.e. brand promise and ethics.

So back to the original question, what comes first?

Choosing the coach?

Or getting the job description right?

Obviously it is a mix of both, but as a former High Performance sports coach, and now a High Performance coach for business there are 3 important steps to take to give the new coach, the team and the club or organisation best chance of succeeding short term as well as long term:

1. Have a very clear picture of where you want the team to be. This picture will include –

  • what type of game will the team be playing. So with a broad vision of High Performance, the key theme is, “Why play the same game as your opposition?”
  • knowing the type of game that you want to play, set the team a range of process measures, similar to KPIs or milestones, that will provide evidence that the team as well all the individuals who have direct influence on team performance are tracking in the right direction at the right speed

2. Put in place the 5 High Performance (HP) pillars of a High Performance vision which are –

  • Clear vision and overarching strategies
  • Leadership culture
  • Learning environment
  • Talent
  • Success measures

For further information of these pillars view my FREE 3 part video series

3. Now unfold the JD for the role of Head Coach which supports the HP direction –

The type of questions that can now be answered of the role are –

  1. Concerned only with the team and game results?
  2. Primary importance is putting all the right technical, physical, mental, tactical support around the team to produce game results?
  3. Have a broader set of responsibilities to oversee not only all support structures around the team, but also to be responsible for long term development of the team which would include overseeing talent identification, core skills delivery, data management through Athlete Management Systems (AMS)?
  4. Beyond the operational aspects of the role, what sort of promotional, marketing, social media, basically ‘face’ of cricket will the role encompass?
  5. And finally, dig into the skill sets the coach brings to the table with respect to the HP vision for the team, club or organisation?

I hope from Phil Jacques viewpoint and the Queensland Bulls, that Queensland Cricket (QC) in conjunction with Cricket Australia (CA) have undertaken this approach, or something similar, and that is why they have arrived at placing Phil Jacques in a role for which he is best qualified.

Getting the right coach filling the right job description in their High Performance framework is a critical decision to get right for QC and CA this time, as their last appointment, Stuart Law was less than successful not only in terms of results, but also in terms of damage to the cricket brand.

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