Being relevant is as important to leadership as it is to being a rock star. We talk about relevance all the time with our friends, how a certain rock band or pop star used to be all we would listen to then their music became irrelevant and we forgot about them almost overnight. What happened to those stars that somehow they were forgotten? You would imagine that with all the money and fame at hand they would stay up to date with the times. After all, we know being relevant is important, but if multi-million dollar rock bands can lose their relevance, so can young coaches and sports leaders.
Relevance is how you form bonds with your group. Whether they are music fans, sports fans, or your board of directors, when the people you are trying to motivate understand your vision and you are relevant to them and their needs, they open up to you. They make a connection which allows them to trust you and follow your calling. There is a certain compatibility and chemistry that must occur in all relationships for them to work. Although the terms compatibility and chemistry are commonly thrown around in dating relationships, they are equally as significant to professional relationships.
Compatibility is what two people have in common. These common denominators can range from hobbies to place of work. They can be as small as both enjoying iced coffee during your morning break to as complex as sharing philosophies regarding how to jump-start the next big industry. Compatibility is essential in a relationship because if there is no common ground, the two groups will never have any true substance to base their trust upon.
Chemistry is what keeps two individuals glued together. Over time, compatibility can be boring, but chemistry is what fuels the relationship. Two creative minds coming together because they discovered they have a common interest in running before work later discovered they both are die-hard fans of entrepreneurship and decide to start a small business that never would have happened if the two entrepreneurs didn’t spend countless hours passionately tossing around ideas while on their morning run.
Without compatibility and chemistry there is no chance at being relevant. Think back through your childhood and imagine your favorite coach or mentor. What made them so special to you? Was it purely the success they provided in your performance? Or was it the connection they made with you along the way. The trust you built in them through hours of invested commitment and chemistry. Your favorite coach most likely formed a connection with you making them relevant to your life beyond that of sport.
The bond started with basic compatibility. In this case, the sport and your shared interest in improving within the sport. Then as your relationship as coach and athlete evolved, the two of you developed a chemistry. Either through bringing up memories from your coaches past and how the two of you were similar athletes at your age, or you both have a unique taste in music and fashion that the mainstream would not understand, or perhaps it is a college coach and you both grew up in the same town and share fond memories growing up there. Whatever is acting as the glue bringing you closer together than basic common ground interest, that is the chemistry that made your coach relevant to you and that is why you look back at this coach as your favorite.
Imagine what that experience would have been like without that coach and imagine how much less you would have accomplished without them. Compatibility is necessary to get a relationship up and going, and far too often we see teams operating in lack-luster environments because the underlying theme bringing them together is lacking chemistry. It is obvious when you watch members of such teams that each minute is ticking by for these people at a snails pace. Chemistry allows time to fly. It’s what turns a staff meeting into a creativity session or a three hour group marathon long-run from a miserable experience shared among a group into three hours of conversations and growing stronger as a team.
Wherever life brings you it will involve forming new relationships within groups of people to make things work. By stepping up and being the leader that finds common ground and sparks a passionate interest out of that common ground, you may one day be remembered as that favorite “coach” from your memories. Remember, being a member of an irrelevant band will still allow you to put out new music, but being the leader of a rock band, that is relevance throughout the ages. Now we’re talking legacy!
By Chris Johnson
Christopher P. Johnson is an educator and co-founder/ head strength and conditioning coach at Boston Strength and Conditioning, llc in Newton, Ma. He received his Masters of Management degree as well as his Bachelors of Science Degree in Sports Science from Lasell College, and is currently pursuing a terminal degree through the United States Sports Academy.