Example: From the time I could stand up on my two little toddler legs until I was around thirty years old, I loved playing soccer. I had many coaches, some better than others. Much later I realized that one of the most important leadership qualities was about predictability.
During a period in my teens, I was small and had growing pains in both my heels and knees. I lost my place as a regular in the club team and had to substitute instead. But I trusted the coach who said “Your style of play is better on grass.” (At that time, there were mostly gravel pitches in Gothenburg.)
I struggled and bided my time. Then finally came a “grass match”. We were thirteen boys. I didn’t get to start, which was a bit disappointing, but I was still in good spirits. The coach’s mantra rang in my ears. “Your style of play is better on grass…” A bit into the second half, the coach turned to us substitutes. He told the other guy to warm up…
I didn’t play one minute of that game. Shortly afterwards I left the club in disappointment and started in another team where I quickly enjoyed myself and got to play again. To this day, I wonder if that coach had any idea what expectations he was crushing on that grass field. I’d rather hear, “You’re not good enough right now.” It would have been more honest.
An unpredictable boss is a useless boss
Imagine if your boss gives you an exciting project to lead, or tells you that you will get the position you applied for, or that you will be recognized for something good you did. Only to find out later that none of this will happen. The manager changed his mind without warning or explanation and chose something else or someone else.
Unpredictability sucks. It is even better to have a predictable bad boss because then it is easier to find your way out of there.
NOTE: Predictability should not be confused with rigidity and an inability to be creative. Not at all. It’s more about whether you keep your word, whether you can be trusted, and whether you show up when you say you will.
Be predictable. And good. Then you will retain good people and attract good people.
Thanks for reading my mind.
Team Antoni Explains
Predictability in Soccer Coaching
Antoni Lacinai, a renowned keynote speaker and author, fondly recalls his passion for playing soccer from a young age. Like many children, he had several soccer coaches during his journey, some better than others. But as he grew older, he realized that one of the most important qualities a coach or leader could possess was predictability.
A Teenager’s Soccer Experience
During his teenage years, Antoni faced a challenging situation. He had developed growing pains in his heels and knees, which led to him losing his regular spot on the club team. Instead, he became a substitute player. However, what kept his spirits high was his trust in his coach, who had once told him, “Your style of play is better on grass.” This was a significant statement because, at that time, most soccer fields in Gothenburg were covered in gravel, not grass.
Antoni patiently waited for the opportunity to play on a grass field, believing his coach’s words. That moment finally arrived during a game when he was among thirteen boys on the team. Although he didn’t start the match, he kept repeating his coach’s advice in his mind. But when the coach eventually turned to the substitutes, disappointment struck. Antoni didn’t get to play a single minute.
Unpredictability Can Be Disheartening
This experience left Antoni questioning whether his coach understood the impact of his decision. He realized that he would have preferred to hear an honest assessment, such as “You’re not good enough right now.” This would have been more honest and less disappointing.
Applying This Lesson to the Workplace
The lesson from Antoni’s soccer days is relevant not only in sports but also in the workplace.
Imagine having a boss who assigns you an exciting project, promises you a promotion, or praises your work, only to later change their mind without warning or explanation. This kind of unpredictability can be frustrating and demoralizing.
The Value of Predictability in Leadership
In contrast, a predictable boss is someone you can rely on. Predictability doesn’t mean being inflexible or lacking creativity. It means keeping your word, earning trust, and being consistent in your actions.
Be Predictable and Reliable
To be a good leader, it’s essential to be both predictable and reliable. This combination not only helps you keep your team’s trust but also attracts other talented individuals who value consistency and reliability in their workplace.
Antoni Lacinai’s soccer story teaches us that predictability is a vital aspect of effective leadership. Whether on the soccer field or in the workplace, being a predictable and trustworthy leader fosters strong connections and creates a positive environment where people can thrive and succeed. Predictability is a quality that can benefit both leaders and their teams.