Posted by Paula Jensen
The Langford Area High School Boys' Basketball Team went to the State B Tournament for the fifth time in six years. As I travel across South Dakota for work, people ask me, "How can Langford (being such a small school) continue to build winning teams year after year?" Successful coaches realize that the winning teams are not led by one person who dominates and reduces the rest of the group to mere followers. Winning teams are more like open forums in which everyone participates in the decision-making process, coaches and players, until the decision is made. Then once a decision is made, the team is motivated to go ahead and run it.
In the scenario of this winning team, I was thinking of the work I do with communities in small towns in South Dakota. What would happen if the leaders and residents of our small towns started to work together as a winning team, along with our high school athletes and their coaches?
If we can consider the possibility of transforming our small towns into winning teams, the first task of the local leadership is to bring together groups of motivated people to make joint decisions and bring local ideas to life. Successful leaders, like winning coaches, recognize that they need to gain more knowledge and skills in the treatment and development of local people and their ideas in order to create a dynamic small town. . This team approach is a fundamental change from the hierarchical leadership style we are used to, where one leader gives instructions and the other group members follow in doing the work.
To engage this process of building winning teams through community engagement, local leaders can begin by inviting all residents to participate and express their thoughts, feelings and ideas. Effective community engagement requires 1) local leaders be supportive of ideas and 2) local residents share ideas in a user-friendly way.
If you are a motivated resident with a good idea to implement, here are some tips to help you prepare to share this idea in a user-friendly way:
- Start by finding a team of residents who support the creation of this idea;
- Think with the team with a list of possible outcomes;
- Document the skills of each member of the team and assign the roles;
- Identify any gaps in the team and look for external partners;
- Determine what success will look like and how the team will measure it;
- Consider obstacles to success or consequences if the team does not achieve its goals;
- Create a method of direct team communication, based on facts and going in two ways;
- Ask the team what she has heard to be sure everyone is in agreement. and
- Finally, present the idea in a friendly way, explaining why (ask them to look after you), what (impact on the community) and who (team and partners) rather than how you relate to it.
I can not speak to the secret ingredient of coaching a winning basketball team. But, I'm sure it sounds like the secret ingredient of a winning community that is be committed to developing people. These thriving communities create a strong sense of belonging among their residents. They are in favor of new ideas. And, they develop their residents into future leaders who will advance the approach of the winning team. #Irrural
About Paula Jensen
Paula Jensen's passion for personal and professional life is her passion for community development and leadership. Paula resides in her home town of Langford, South Dakota, whose population is over 318 years old. She is a grant writer and community coach for Dakota Resources, based in Renner, South Dakota. Dakota Resources is a 501c3 community development financial institution that aims to stimulate financial and human investment in rural communities that invest in their communities. Contact her at [email protected]