August 14-18: Leading and Following for Coaches and Students

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August 14-18: Leading and Following for Coaches and Students

Postby First Chairman » Mon Aug 07, 2006 9:20 am

The topic for the next Special Discussion is Leading and Following for Students and Coaches.

The next Special Discussion is scheduled for next week and will only go from Monday to Friday. Then we'll take a small break since classes are starting up in both high school and college. Afterwards, I will likely open up a discussion on Tournament Direction and Organization.
Last edited by First Chairman on Sat Aug 19, 2006 12:50 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Format change announcement

Postby First Chairman » Tue Aug 08, 2006 8:49 am

I'm going to make a slight change in the format for this topic. Specifically, I am going to try to answer some questions you pose to everyone about leadership (while certainly leaving questions open to everyone else).

One thing to realize is that developing leaders depends on the roles you define. Questions I want you all to think about before posting your questions is what roles you need "leaders" to occupy on your teams and what are the challenges these leaders have in these roles.

Additionally, I will extend the definition of leadership to "coaching" and "advising" as well and have set questions for roles of coaches and advisors in the high school and college qb scene (as I have known them).

Please tell everyone about this topic and encourage everyone to participate.
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Postby First Chairman » Sat Aug 12, 2006 9:55 pm

And now questions for you, and open season on questions for me...

1) Defining the problem: What are the qualities you want from a "team leader" who is a team captain, club president/leader, tournament director, or coach/advisor.

2) What makes a leader (in any of the above categories or more as you desire) effective?

3) Does your team have "co-leaders"? Describe how the leadership role is divided. (For example, I have typically had a team captain be different from a club president or a tournament director.)

4) What are the most difficult situations or instances where leadership is a problem?

5) What are the different types of "followers", and how do you deal with each type?

6) How much "leeway" should a student leader have? Where are the boundaries?
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My answers

Postby First Chairman » Mon Aug 14, 2006 10:30 am

I admit I have had a lot of training as a student advisor, and my role changes every year with each class of students. Many of the issues I bring up do apply more to being an advisor to undergraduate clubs, but many of these topics can be extended to high school programs.

1 & 2) The qualities I want in a leader (whether it is a student, a coach, or a person for whom I work) in general are summarized by a number of words and phrases. I want someone who is responsible and has/shares a vision for an outcome. Leaders understand individual subordinates' skills and motivations, and they work to bring out the best from everyone. Leaders understand and accept the limits of power. Leaders praise in public and discipline in private. Leaders share the credit but humbly take responsibility for blame. Leaders are not afraid to confront interpersonal problems and get them resolved as best as they can. Leaders are mentors, recruiters, critical planners, and representatives for their group and the school/university.

Specific tasks for an advisor or a team leader:
* Define and communicate a vision or set of goals for learning and performance. Communicate, communicate, and communicate.
* Provide resources and raise institutional support for team. Maintain resources (questions, equipment) and let others value those resources.
* Make the game fun and inclusive.
* Understand that you are a role model. Encourage others to be leaders through example.

3) I frequently do divide leadership roles as there are so many tasks that can be split among the students. Most students (and adults) don't have all the skills to be editor, tournament director, recruiter, tournament hotel reserver, finance director, and captain. In addition, splitting up the responsibilities democratizes leadership skills development, thus giving every student more ownership of the team's activities. The ownership is extremely important: it builds trust among students, and it gives students an idea of how much effort is involved with running a program.

Some students are more effective in interpersonal skills. Some students are better writers in certain subjects. Some students have the ability to do announcements, and some don't like being in the limelight. High school and college students should gain confidence in the skills they have comfortably developed but they should also stretch themselves to take on different skills.

4) Certainly the most difficult situations I have had occur when there is a breakdown in communication of expectations and responsibilities. When this happens, trust is jeopardized. If you are a student leader, you again cannot be afraid to confront these problems but one must be compassionate with the other person to know what he/she needs. As a student organizations advisor, I have had to keep the temperature on the pot as low as possible so that emotions don't prevent a solution from forming.

skipping to...

6) One other difficulty as an advisor is putting trust in students. I know many of the high school students are still minors and require adult supervision. The fact is that if students share your vision of proper behavior and respect for other players, of running a competition, or of running a club, you will be surprised if you give them some more leeway to run the event (and just provide resources). It surprises me sometimes how my own students can do something a little more efficiently or have a little more enjoyment of an activity if I let them be responsible for their own actions. As much as we want to, advisors and parents have to refrain from hovering too much.
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Postby jrbarry » Mon Aug 14, 2006 8:41 pm

Dr Chuck: (a sidenote)

In terms of legal responsibility, ALL high school students are minors.

My school system conducts a workshop for sponsors and coaches every year and our bosses make that very clear. Whether fair or not, I am responsible for just about everything my players do as part of our academic team activities. Kinda daunting if one thinks about it very long. I try NOT to think about that fact very much.

That being said, I try to treat my players like adults at least some of the time. I really like the kids with whom I work. But, I am just one "PowerofChe" away from being fired should any of them decide to "get me." My principal reminds me fo that evey year.
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Postby cvdwightw » Tue Aug 15, 2006 8:25 pm

1) I think the most important quality for any kind of leadership role is a passion for the game. A leadership that lacks enthusiasm will see this same lack of enthusiasm drip down the ranks and the program will have trouble both recruiting and retaining new members. Especially where recruitment is nearly all word of mouth, it is necessary to have leaders with this passion. All other qualities come from this - a person may have all the outward characteristics we tend to define as contributing toward leadership, but these are wasted if he/she finds no reason to get involved.

2) I tend to separate "team captain" as a gameplay aspect and club president and tournament director as operational aspects of the club. A coach tends to combine both gameplay aspects and operational aspects. For the gameplay aspects, I think building trust with the "followers" is the most important step towards being effective. With organizational aspects, having a clear idea of what is going on and how goals can be achieved is most important. A poorly run tournament reflects badly on the entire club, as does missing funding deadlines and fighting with school administrators. Most of this can be avoided with leaders who know exactly what needs to be done.

3) We have three positions elected by the club and three positions appointed by the president. Although each position has clearly delineated duties, we tend to do each other's work.

4) Our club's biggest problem is my inability to effectively delegate. This means that not only do I have to do everything but a significant portion of the club is completely out of the loop. I think in my year as president I have learned that sending an e-mail out with the body being "Can somebody please do something about (something)?" is about the worst way to get anything done.

5) There are two types of "followers": those who are not leaders by choice and those who are not leaders because they can't do the job. For instance, Charles Meigs never once held any sort of organizational leadership position in our club, but he directed at least two or three tournaments, served as our CBI captain, and organized several unofficial practices. I would consider people like these the first type of "follower", who can be counted on to do the leadership abilities but lack either the time or the interest to be a full-time student leader. On the other hand, most of us don't expect the freshmen to step up and immediately become leaders; I would put newer players in the second category, not because they're incompetent, but because they lack the necessary experience with how the club works to adequately perform a leadership job.

6) I think this is much more relevant to situations where coaches and student leaders share the responsibility for running a functional club. In situations where either the coach or student leaders run everything, then this question doesn't really apply.
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Postby Deviant Insider » Wed Aug 16, 2006 10:56 pm

It seems like this is a very different issue for high schools and colleges.

In high school, the only student leadership that is necessary is in answering bonus questions. When I pick a team captain (and it says something about the level of leadership that the coach is the one picking the captain), I generally think about it in terms of answering bonuses.

I am all for student leadership in other areas. Over the years, I have had certain students tell me that they would like to organize practices, an intramural tournament, an intermural tournament, and organize study topics for their teammates. I am happy to play the supporting role for students when they show a desire to lead. On the other hand, I don't push them to lead because an unwilling or indifferent leader can make my life miserable.

In the end, however, there is no question that I am the leader. I don't crack the whip or anything like it, but I'm the coach and they're the students, and nobody has ever had a problem with it. Scholastic Bowl can provide students with leadership opportunities, but it can also be a worthwhile activity when it doesn't.

I suppose this would be a good forum for students to talk about what qualities they want from a coach, though it's difficult to do that without pointing fingers. Generally, I think this issue is more interesting in college quizbowl, where you have people leading their peers. There are some high school teams that are run primarily by students, but they are very rare.

5) I think that the different types of followers can be classified by what they hope to gain from the activity. For some students, they want quizbowl to be one of twenty things they do and are happy to practice and play when they get a chance. For other students, quizbowl is a more serious endeavor and they are willing to work at getting better and play roles beyond being a contestant. I am happy to serve both constituencies. I try to move people from the first category into the second, but there is no point in treating them like they are in the second category if they are not actually there.
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Pathway to Independence?

Postby First Chairman » Thu Aug 17, 2006 11:04 am

Both Rick and Dave bring up very good points. There isn't a lot of flexibility in some cases to giving some independence to high school students to run aspects of their clubs. Policy does override and limit the activities of high school students in many cases because they are legally minors.

That said, the hardest part of my "job" (as team leader and advisor of a college program) is that they are expected to learn the limits of independence as "adults." As I know I have told many coaches, I cannot offer extra credit, cannot rely on boosters or parents, and certainly don't have an administration that gives a hoot about my program. Having students who are even willing to navigate the bureaucracy required to maintain a team is vital for a college program to be viable, and it is made all the more difficult since students have their own academic coursework which should be their primary concern.

(I'm picking on Duke because it is my most recent experience.) My frustration at a place like Duke is that I have had and been among many very smart kids, many of whom have competed at the various nationals over the years. I certainly can attribute it a bit to the campus climate (and many of my other org advisors with whom I have talked agree with me), but very few "star players" stay with quiz bowl because they never wanted to be more involved than just playing. Very few if any have even the motivation to write questions (even bad, horrible one-liners). There are certainly other activities that they feel more fulfilled in pursuing (and I don't stop them from doing that). This was certainly not the situation at Case where my students remembered how much they enjoyed the activity when they were high school players are wanted to learn how to contribute back to the circuit.

Of course, the hard part of coaching at either high school or college is the fact we have turnover every two-ish years for all intents and purposes. As a team advisor, I have to learn to adjust to each new leader's concerns, needs, and preparation. I admit that it is that aspect of advising and collaboration (and seeing positive results) that is the most rewarding about being a student club advisor (and now pre-professional advisor).

To that end, the type of student that I want to shape through quiz bowl activities is one who is very smart... not necessarily just in the classroom but also when it comes to project and team management skills. I want to produce reliable, dedicated individuals who are respectful of others, time-manage and communicate well, and present themselves professionally regardless of situation. The students I train I want to have critical thinking and crisis management skills. And yeah, a winning record at tournaments won't hurt either. The more of these skills I can help develop in the 2-4 years I have a student, the more effective I can be as a leader, a coach, a teacher, an advisor, and a mentor.
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Postby quizbowllee » Thu Aug 17, 2006 11:21 am

I've wrestled with what to say on this topic because most of my players read this board. So, I'll preface my post with the statement that anything I say here I have said openly to my team, and they know it to be true.

With that said, I am confident in saying that our "captain" is, in fact, the student on the team with the absolute worst interpersonal skills. He is highly unmotivated. However, he simply is the best player. He's also the only one on the "A" team who WANTS to be captain (which says a lot). He doesn't care to go against his entire team on an answer if he knows they are wrong. The problem is he often "knows" they are wrong when, in fact, they were right. He doesn't care whose feelings he hurts and he can make tough choices on the fly. However, he comes across as incredibly arrogant and his teammates know this. Sometimes, though, that's what you need in a captain. He is a good captain, but he is a terrible "leader."

In a perfect world, this would be the student that I could count on to make sure that things are done. For example, writing questions for a tournament... However, he is one of the least responsible in that department. Also, his nonchalant attitude is popping up in my younger players. This student has the ability to be great at this game with little or no effort. The problem is, he's rubbing off on younger players who don't have near his natural ability. If this student ever buckled down and worked as hard as some of my B-team players, then he could easily be the best player in the nation, I'm sure of that...

Now, I have some really good natural "leaders" on my B-team. They work hard, come to extra practices, write questions, and dictate tasks to the younger players. The problem here is that these players, though great influences and great leaders, simply aren't as good at the game as my infinitley lazier (and more talented) "A" team...
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Postby BuzzerZen » Thu Aug 17, 2006 6:25 pm

TJ's leadership structure goes like this:

"Elected" offices (often, they are implicitly appointed by the previous years' leadership):
President: Tournament registration, trip planning, car distributing.
Vice President-Chief Financial Officer: aka treasurer. Purchase orders, knowing how much money we have, deposits, fiscal conservatism.
Vice President-Chief Personnel Officer/New Member Coordinator: Coordinate new member practices.
Secretary: Nothing much at all.
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Co-captains are appointed by the previous year's captains and are usually obvious choices based on seniority and skill level. The role of the co-captains is to manage practices and to lead the A-team at tournaments.

Tournament director appointed by virtue of having learned how to run tournaments from the previous tournament director. May be the same person as the captain.

Sponsor: Provide air of legitimacy, classroom, snacks.

Teams are generally set by co-captains, sometimes in conjunction with the president. Usually some subset of the leadership team turns out to be more comitted than others, and makes most of the important decisions in a given year.

Obviously, our team is almost entirely student-coordinated, and which I guess is not possible for every team, but it is my opinion that any larger team with sufficient transmitted tradition should be able to be run by players. I've known at least one excellent player and captain who gave up quiz bowl due to conflicts with his coach over how the team should run. A comitted coach with past experience in the activity seems to be generally responsible for starting up a team, but comitted players can make comitted leaders.
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