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Teaming Lessons Learned from Coaching Soccer


I started coaching my son’s soccer team this year. I was actually “volunteered” to be a coach by my wife. Maybe some of you can relate to that type of experience. I love watching my son play and enjoy watching and learning the game. Admittedly, every now and again I have had an “I will never do this again type of experience” but the thought usually passes within a couple of days. Maybe some of you can relate to that, too.

I thought about my coaching experience this morning and how I might relate it to green teaming at a hotel. Here are a few thoughts that came to mind:

“Volunteering” someone to be the sustainability champion at your hotel is probably not a good idea. There will likely be less buy-in, less effectiveness, and you may even create a situation where your associate regrets working for you or even coming to work each day. Who wants to follow a disgruntled leader? You could get lucky and “volunteer” someone who ends up being employee of the year, but it is unlikely. It is certainly much better to find someone who is all-out passionate and knowledgeable about sustainability, and who has strong leadership and organizational skills.

I have coached two seasons of soccer this year. Both times the gentleman who runs the league assigned another coach to my team without telling me until after I had already volunteered. We all know the saying about too many chefs and in my case that applies. This past weekend the other coach had already assigned his son to be goalie without consulting with me. As head coach I did not appreciate someone else making my decisions for me. I wanted to say something to the coach but did not want to create a scene in front of the kids. At some point I may have to say something to him about it and it will be awkward for the both of us—and maybe for the team. In a nutshell, I lost a bit of the trust I have in that coach. In a hotel environment, you want clarity about who is responsible for what. Without that, there are inefficiencies and even costly mistakes. There can also be confusion among staff with some siding or following the orders of one manager while others side or follow the orders of another. Chaos, in other words, and ultimately not good for the environment.

One final thought here: One of the secrets to successful leadership (and coaching) is knowing the skills, talents, passions and desires of your team very well. In which scenarios will each associate contribute most to your sustainability program’s success? I have one player on my team who has told me several times he does not want to play. Do you have someone on your team who just won’t participate in your green initiatives? Maybe that person should be working somewhere else? I have another player who clearly needs more training before she can compete well. What kind of sustainability training do you offer your associates and how often?

Your thoughts? I can be reached at editor@greenlodgingnews.com.