Key Takeaways:

  • Be the 1, Not the 10
  • Power in Our Position

This is the final #BookClub from Negotiating 101 by Peter Sander. The previous posts have attempted to illuminate an intersection between coaching basketball and the art of negotiations, particularly with Bartering, Preparation, and Body-Language. As it has been mentioned before; coaching is an act of daily negotiations from the likes of practice planning, staff meetings, player management, or culture cultivation. After reading the final few chapters we look to seal the deal by understanding how energy impacts results and the power in our position as a coach.

Be The One, Not the Ten

I call it the “one in ten” syndrome, and it happens a lot in business. For every one individual moving things forward with positive energy, there are nine other people questioning tactics, finding faults and errors, even nitpicking the PowerPoint presentation. It’s a truth in human nature and especially of bureaucracies that it’s easier to find fault with someone else’s work than to do constructive work of our own.

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Hopefully the ratio of “bought-in” players are higher in your program, but we have all been in situations where frustrated players have had the potential to disrupt team progress.

During negotiations, sacrifices are expected from both sides to reach an optimal (win-win) result. Deciding to sacrifice, whether instinctual or pre-meditated, can cause individuals to pause for introspection to consider value or perceived contribution. Similar to a team chasing a championship, some will see increased opportunities from a shot-selection standpoint while others may be asked to play more of a supportive role. Terms are laid out by the coaching staff during the season inferring a suggested best case scenario for the team’s success. When things are not working, there may be more room to negotiate for a change. But, even when all things seem to be headed in the right direction there are still those that think it could be better if this, or that were done differently – especially those amongst the spectators.

Energy plays a dynamic role in a team’s trajectory throughout the course of a season. In the beginning, all energy tends to be high with enthusiasm for potential success. Then there is an immediate reality check following difficult decisions that inevitably are revealed (e.g. tryouts or depth chart); the collective mood will begin to shift. It is a coach’s prerogative to encourage players in the program to be the one, not the ten. It takes a combination of efforts from the head coach, support staff, and peer influences to sustain positive energy necessary for a dedicated team striving for championship aspirations.

Being in a Position of Power

Power can be the “secret sauce” of a negotiation, making it all go well and providing a favorable outcome that nurtures a positive long-term relationship. Power can also poison the well permanently if abused. Use power with caution, and if you have it, don’t flaunt it.

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We are fortunate to be in a position with immeasurable influence on an impressionable group of student-athletes. How we choose to respond in any situation can shape perspective for many moving forward. From our position of power provides leverage during negotiations, and author Peter Sander of Negotiating 101 recognizes the distinction between “good power” and “bad power.”

  • Good power is seen through reputation and accomplishment producing long-lasting relationships
  • Bad power exists from coercion gained by intimidation, harsh language, or “loud” body language

Power doesn’t imply leadership. Yet, leaders always are in a position of power. And we know plenty of coaches that demonstrate power in a distinctive way to them. In large part, the legends of our game often are the best negotiators because relationships are at the core of their intentions. The achievements that follow are a reflection of how we use our position of power to create an environment of inclusivity, determination, and competitive resolve.


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