The following is a quote from the book Barking Up the Wrong Tree by Eric Barker, which I previously reviewed.

“Whether an introvert or an extrovert is the better leader depends on whom they are leading. When employees are passive, the social, energetic extroverts really shine. However, when you’re dealing with very motivated workers, introverts do better because they know how to listen, help, and get out of the way.”

Obviously, the quote is framed in terms of a business environment. I think it has real application in coaching as well, though. Think about the different types of teams we deal with.

Who are the “passive employees”? That’s usually more beginning players, right? They are much more inclined to be passive on the court, waiting for the ball to come to them – and often hoping it doesn’t. They don’t bring their own energy, so it’s helpful to have some from an external source – like their coach.

Now who are the “motivated workers”? Those are the advanced and experienced players, aren’t they? They don’t need someone external providing energy because they already have it internally.

The implication of all this is that extroverts are likely to have more success coaching the more beginning and inexperienced players while introverts are better suited to working with more advanced and experienced teams. Might be something to think about as you find your coaching niche.

Before you yell at me, “But I want to coach XXX level!”, though, let me add something.

You don’t need to BE and extrovert to coach beginners. And you don’t have to BE and introvert to coach experienced players. What you should be able to do, however, is to take on those attributes as the situation requires.

Most of us have some of both characteristics, so the raw material is there. We just might have to pull out the less dominant parts of our personalities from time to time to accomplish what we want.

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John Forman
John Forman

John is currently the Men's & Women's Head Volleyball Coach at Medaille College, as well as Global Director for Volleyball for Nation Academy (formerly Charleston Academy). His previous experience includes the college and university level in the US and UK, professional coaching in Sweden, and both coaching and club management at the Juniors level. Learn more on his bio page.

Please share your own ideas and opinions.