Whenever we talk about leadership, we talk about big picture concepts. I like to have a vision of the end result so that I know where I am going. However, the big picture is made up of thousands upon thousands of small events. It is the accumulation of these small events that shape the path of your journey.
Take care of the little things and the big things will take care of themselves. – Emily Dickinson
What are the little things?
The little things are things which you can control.
- How you treat your team members and teammates
In coach speak, success is in the details. Players need to execute the basic functions of a game like passing, shooting, and moving. It is very easy as a coach to get so wrapped up in systems as we prepare for games that we neglect the basic skills necessary for success. Our team play will win games, or so we think. When we get wrapped up in this trap, we forget that players need to be able to execute within that system. If they do not have the skill set mastered, then it does not matter what we draw up on the chalkboard.
What is out of your control?
- Opponents and the execution of their game plan
- Bounces (good or bad)
This is a small list as there are so many aspects of sport that are outside of a coaches control. If you control the controllables, the rest will follow suit. If you have put in the time and work to prepare yourself for battle, you have given yourself the best chance at success.
I loved watching the Chicago Blackhawks make their run to the Stanley Cup this year. The reason I was so impressed night after night is that they were never rattled. They were never out of a game, and they never looked as if they felt the game was at hand. They continually dug themselves out of a jam because they never panicked. They never let things like the score or a slow start or a bad bounce get them down. They stuck with their game not matter the situation and found a way to dig themselves back in.
In football, every play is an accumulation of little things. Each player has a certain place to move, and if one player does not do their job, the whole play can be busted. It is not unlike many team sports. Every player has their responsibility within the game. Not every responsibility is directly executed in the spotlight. Much of what makes a team successful is the execution of details that most will neglect to notice. However, it’s those details that are the difference between success and failure in sport.
What happens when you do not take care of the little things?
They become big things. Bill Belicheck of the New England Patriots said it best.
The little details add up until they represent significant differences. Let nothing slip through the cracks. – Bill Belicheck
This works both ways. Those little details can add up to success or can become your undoing as a team. Either way they add up. Even a single piece of paper is light as a feather, but a pile of paper becomes heavier. Continue to make the pile larger, and it becomes a challenge to move. In the end, it’s just paper, but if you let the little things slip, they eventually become obstacles.
As the leader, it is your responsibility to keep an eye out for this. You cannot expect you players to notice that the little details are slipping. While you do not want to be a micromanager, there are times when you must point out that details are being missed. Otherwise, they will continue to slide. The team who takes care of details are typically the ones who are left standing at the end of the season.
Tell me what you think. Leave a comment and give me your story of how the little things contributed to either success or failure.