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Coaches Book Club

Leadership Literature: Coaches’ Book Club

Part of professional development as a leader and coach is working through the professional literature of leadership. That can take the form of a good, old-fashioned book, podcast, or web-based article.

Here is my recent collection of resources:


Leadership Literature: Coaches’ Book Club

The Power of Team Captains

We hear so much about culture and how important it is to driving success. Relationships are at the center of every discussion of culture. Being able to speak and hear the truth, while being safe and supported, are essential to growth. No culture thrives unless it is based on growth. This podcast gets into what that actually looks like in action.

“Find a Culture of Greatness”

Sam Walker is the author of The Captain Class, and his work is the most exhaustive study of greatness in leadership in the captain position. It is ancient coaching wisdom that if your best players are your hardest workers, you are primed for success.

A key takeaway from The Captain Class: leadership takes on all shapes and forms, but there are key traits for leaders that can be developed.

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“No Dickheads”

The 15 chapters of James Kerr’s Legacy all focus on one aspect of being a great team, all stemming from the All Blacks rugby team’s consistent culture. We have found them to be excellent discussion starters for our leadership training sessions.

You can learn about all 15 of the team’s mantras here, and they can apply to your lacrosse team, your business, your anything that requires leadership and teamwork to achieve. This is some of the best leadership literature you can find.

A major lesson from Legacy: develop a team of leaders dedicated to serving the mission of the team.

Let Them Lead

This book is inspiring on multiple levels. I’m also a big hockey guy – I can smell the rink when I read this.

“It comes down to the way you treat people. When you treat people with dignity and respect all the time, you can work through anything.”

John U. Bacon

An important takeaway from Let Them Lead: set high standards and work together to achieve them daily. Be a good listener.

You’re Always Leading by Example

This article by Michael Schrage for the Harvard Business Review explaining how you’re always leading through action, fit with real-world examples of how it should be.

“What I do speaks so loudly that what I say cannot be heard.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

A main lesson to gain from Schrage’s work is that you have to live up to standards OUT LOUD. Being discrete about asking how a teammate in a leadership position leads by example can yield results. Ask them. You need to know what they think it looks like to be a leader.

Chris Bosh

Highly recommend you give this a listen, then pick up Chris Bosh’s book, “Letters to a Young Athlete,” like I did. Bosh gets it, and this book made me feel so lucky to be coaching.

“It takes what it takes.”

Chris Bosh

This was the best book I read this summer. It’s so good – pick it up.

A big moral of “Letters to a Young Athlete” is that the lessons we learn as athletes are lessons for life.

“The Inner Game of Tennis”

How do you relentlessly pursue excellence without getting tight or in your head? W. Timothy Gallwey’s classic can help coaches understand that a lot of what we do is overanalyzing and overcoaching, which creates a tight athlete mentally and physically. We can train our thoughts through play and competition, so practice planning has to allow space for this with clearly-designed desired outcomes.

“Picture the desired outcome and let it happen.”

W. Timothy Gallwey

An important takeaway from “The Inner Game of Tennis” is that there is more to developing yourself as an athlete than just technique.

Jamie Munro with Dr. Erik Korem

Jamie Munro’s podcast is a regular listen for me on my commute. This episode is about high performance and is one of his many worthwhile discussions.

A key takeaway from this podcast is that sleep is essential for learning and physical recovery. This has to be planned for and can be one of the biggest challenges for college athletes.

Wanna Talk Leadership Literature?

Any coaches out there want to get a book club discussion, podcast, or just talk shop on any of the selection above? Please get in touch at schanhals@hope.edu. I look forward to advancing our craft together.

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