I was speaking with a very successful high school soccer coach this week. While discussing how his teams were so successful, I expected to hear about the level of talent in his area of the city, the youth program that develops players that come to his high school, or his ability as a coach to strategically attack the weaknesses of his opponents. But what I heard was, “75% of high school soccer coaching is cheerleading. It’s my job as coach to cheer our players on and motivate them to play hard and never quit.” I think this applies to more than just high school soccer. Leaders at all levels need to be cheerleaders, at times, to motivate their teams. Admittedly, I have no experience as a cheerleader, but having been to more than a few high school games, I see these traits in cheerleaders that would help leaders in all organizations. Cheerleaders are always positive – they never cheer against their team. They never quit, even when the team is far behind on the scoreboard. They always focus on the customer, often times not even watching the game but rather playing to the fans.
Cheerleading is an important skill for leaders. Perhaps this explains how companies, teams, and organizations can make dramatic turnarounds with virtually the same “players” but new leadership. Don’t forget to cheer your team on!