In the mid 1990's business motivational expert Tony Alessandra wrote a book entitled The Platinum Rulewhose basic premise could have a profound effect on us as coaches if we start to apply it to the way we interact with our players.
Alessandra admits that the Golden Rule, "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you," may be extremely powerful as a guide to personal values, but he also contends that it can create many conflicts when it comes to communicating (coaching).
How? Because if I coach all my players the way I would want to be coached then I would obviously have to coach them all exactly the same way. I would drive all of them extremely hard, in a very intense, straightforward, blunt, no nonsense; results are everything, kind of way. But what if they don't respond to that type of coaching? What if some do, while others completely tune me out? What does that do to the coach-athlete relationship and to the entire coaching process?
Instead of the Golden Rule, Alessandra says that we should be following the Platinum Rule, which is essentially, "Do unto others as they'd like done unto them."
As a coach that changes everything! It means now we should push the ones who respond favorably to pushing and pull the ones who respond to pulling. Some we can yell at but others we need to whisper to. Some need pats on the back, while others need kicks in the butt. The point is that our players are all individuals and need to be coached differently in order to reach their full potential!
Now while we are thinking about this, consider how applying this concept might improve the way you communicate with referees, club officials, school administrators, and even parents. Instead of treating them all exactly the same, is it possible that you might accomplish more, with less stress, if you treat them the way they want to be treated?
The best way to do this is to get to know everyone that you coach and work with as well as you possibly can. To make things a little easier, Alessandra has classified different personality types into four general categories. I've listed the categories below but have adapted his definitions to more closely fit our situations as coaches. This will at least give you a starting point as you begin to individualize your coaching and communication.
Confidant, competitive, wants to be in charge and to make things happen. Probably your "Go To" type player.
Outgoing and needs to be the center of attention. These players may talk a better game than they play.
Great teammates and team players, who want to get along with everyone. Your "Glue" guy.
Doesn't take a lot of risks and may over-think when on the court. Likes detailed scouting reports, playbooks, and highly structured practices.
We all know that our players aren't going to fit exactly into one category but we can and should start thinking about how to coach and motivate them based on their individual personalities. As we learn to adapt and apply the Platinum Rule, our communication is going to improve and so is our coaching.