7 Personality Traits Of Top Coaches

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The always informative folks over at the Harvard Business Review hit a home run with this one!  Seven Personality Traits of Top Salespeople was a great read…with a very lively comments section.  I’d suggest you check both of them out.

In 10 Reasons Coaches Should Embrace Their Inner Salesperson, I suggested that most coaches are in sales and the sooner we get comfortable with that, the better we’ll be.  We’re selling our institution and program to recruits, selling playing time discrepancies to our teams, we’re selling what our program needs to our bosses.

So if we’re going to be in sales, we’d might as well be good at it!

Let’s check out what it will take for each of us to become a top coach.

  1. Modesty.  I know a coach at a large institution who’s done a fabulous job of turning around her team.  As a player, she was an all-American at a top school…not to mention a starter on a national championship winning team.  She’s coached some of the best players in the nation, beaten some of the best teams in the country (with lesser talent), and is quite the hot commodity right now.  And you’d never know it by talking to her.  Perhaps that’s why she’s a top coach.
  2. Conscientiousness.  Much of the job of the coach is to interact with others.  Having a high sense of duty and being responsible and reliable are wonderful traits that people are always looking for in leaders.  Our players don’t always have to agree with our decisions, but they should respect and understand where we’re coming from.
  3. Achievement orientation.  We’re in athletics, if we’re not high achievers…then we’re in the wrong profession!
  4. Curiosity.  Are you always picking your coaching friend’s brains?  Do you love reading about leadership and team chemistry?  Are you a subscriber to coaching blogs like this one?  Then you’re on your way to becoming a top coach!  Leaders are learners.
  5. Lack of gregariousness.  This was surprising to me, because when I think of salespeople, I think of people who are just a hair too chatty.  Though coaches are salespeople to a certain extent, we don’t want to come off as “salesy”.  We don’t want recruits, parents of recruits, our current players, alums, our bosses…we don’t want anyone we encounter to think we’re being anything but genuine with them.
  6. Lack of discouragement.  As the leader of the pack, we can’t get down too easily.  And when we do get down, we can’t let it show to our teams.  I certainly haven’t achieved “top coach” status, but I do have this trait down.  After a particularly crazy season of ups and downs, one of my seniors said that I never looked worried about the season and that helped them to not freak out.  As a matter of fact, I was quite worried during that season…but that didn’t stop me from teaching, coaching, and preparing the team to be at their best.
  7. Lack of self-consciousness.  I’d bet most coaches have this particular trait down pat.  How many other professions have to live out their successes and failures in front of a crowd…with the results being published online, in the paper, and on the news for all to see?  Coaching is like the world’s original reality show!  Because of that, I can’t imagine that many of us embarrass easily.


So hopefully, reading that list made you feel good about where you are as a coach.  We may not have achieved “top coach” status (yet), but the journey to get there will make us better each day!