by Dr. Mike Davenport, CoachingSportsToday.com
Sitting in the audience, I waited for the stand-up comedian to get us laughing.
He was having an off-day. Not even a giggle. I could see the frustration building on his face.
After a few minutes of joke-after-joke failing, he stopped.
The place went dead silent.
Then he unleashed a tirade — screaming and cussing. Calling us names.
“Laugh you dumb-sh**-heads.” F-bomb after F-bomb raining down upon the audience.
People started leaving.
I thought it was part of the act, and things would get funnier. It wasn’t, and it didn’t.
The guy, as they say, “lost it on us.” I still feel uncomfortable about it today.
Sounds bizarre, being demeaned in an attempt to get a response such as laughter.
CLOSER TO HOME
Today, another coach was publicly fired for verbally abusing athletes.
What the heck?
As I read the story, I thought back to the comedian. The stand-up tried really hard, I bet the coach was trying too.
I understand frustration. I work with people for a living, it comes with the territory.
And I understand if someone “loses it” as a singular blip. A once-in-a-decade type of thing. Jeez, I am amazed at some who — knowing the hardships in their lives — never lose it.
But apparently for this coach “losing it” was his style. I don’t get it when someone loses it — demeans —as part of their schtick. Why would you do that on a regular basis?
Demeaning an athlete to get her to perform better is like screaming at me to get me to laugh.
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Not long ago, there was this fellow by the name of Dwight Eisenhower.
Famous guy. Basically lead the Ally effort to win WWll in Europe. Then he became the 34th president of the US.
Darn good leader. He was quoted once as saying, “You do not lead by hitting people over the head. That’s assault, not leadership.”
He led men and women into war. Some died. He suffered a lot of failure. Yet, I’ve never heard one report that he was demeaning as a leader in war, or as President.
And here’s a thought, next time you drive on an Interstate in the U.S. remember Eisenhower. He had a lot to do with them. I doubt he was demeaning to get the Interstate built.
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Mike Rice, the ex-Rutgers coach who was fired last year for infamously demeaning his athletes, is in the news again.
Can he do it? I hope for his sake, but more importantly for the sake of future athletes, that he can.
So, why do some coaches think it’s good leadership style to demean, belittle, insult? They probably don’t think about it, they just do it.
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This post is about communicating effectively as a leader. Getting a message across in a positive and engaging manner.
Coaching is a tough gig. Certainly, coaches need to be demanding to get things built.
But being demeaning DOES NOT build. Being demeaning is NOT helpful. Being demeaning is NOT positive.
Demeaning communication destroys, is hurtful, negative.
It’s a scary, dark road when a coach is demeaning. It’s a road that should not be traveled.
Dr. Mike Davenport is a longtime college coach and the man behind the popular website CoachingSportsToday.com. He is a regular contributor to College Recruiting Weekly.