Virginia Bianco-Mathis
University professor, author

Virginia Bianco-Mathis

Business department chair of management programs at Marymount University and author of two books on executive coaching.


Finger-jabbing motivation

Q: University of Maryland basketball coach Gary Williams, who was just voted ACC Coach of the Year, gets so frenzied during games that he sweats through his suits. How does that arm-waving, finger-jabbing style contribute to his team's success? And why do other successful coaches pride themselves on their composure?

Many studies have been done on motivation. In an attempt to characterize the best professors, hundreds of college students around the world were asked to list the qualities of a "great professor." At the top of the list was enthusiasm.

It is hard to get excited, focused, and personally invested in a leader, teacher, guide, or coach who does not demonstrate an intrinsic passion for the game -- whatever the game might be.

Sometimes the enthusiasm comes in the form of a quiet and intense composure. Other times it comes in the form of frenzied arm-waving. Williams demonstrates the latter and his players rally around his infectious actions. You want to follow him. You want to join his dance towards success.

Other coaches can be equally inspirational through the use of a quiet, smoldering fire --you can sense the heat under the surface.The effect is the same: Players "catch" the fire and become ignited.

What doesn't work is dispassionate affectations or disconnected leadership. The human psyche gets energized by passion, and with Williams the passion comes in the form of sweaty suits.

By Virginia Bianco-Mathis  |  March 15, 2010; 12:00 AM ET  | Category:  coaching Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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I always thought of Vince Lombardi as a bully. His players seemed to like him.

Posted by: jimward21 | March 15, 2010 3:55 PM
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