This summer I was asked to present on leadership qualities and the qualities of great crew chiefs. As I prepared, I found the topic to be challenging because I feel like it is the area I struggle with the most. There are certain crew chiefs I admire greatly, and I covet some of their skills. Some people are so good, they have you leaving the game thinking about their leadership.
A few who come to mind for me are Troy Winders from Kentucky, Dawn Marsh of Georgia, Penny Davis of Washington, or Bryan Enterline of Indiana. I believe they have the “it” factor of being a crew chief. Their styles are different. Their personalities and training as diverse as it gets, yet they have “it.”
Though each crew chief is different, many share certain characteristics. I have come up with eight crew chief qualities I have witnessed over the years and strive to attain and improve in myself.
Great crew chiefs:
1.Create a safe environment
2.Inspire and motivate
3.Display integrity and honesty
4.Manage People : Manage Situations
6.Have subject matter expertise
7.Give information freely
8.Prepare for the worst, expect the best
I will expand on each of these qualities in separate posts, but today let’s focus on the first of the eight qualities, creating a safe environment.
Have you ever had the feeling your games just go so much smoother than anyone else’s games? Have you ever felt you are ready for the next level because your season goes without controversy? If so, thank your crew chief(s). What I have found as I advanced from high school to small college and small college to Div II and from entry DI to being a crew chief, is that the last year I was at each level, my games were C-R-A-Z-Y, crazy!
It is true. The last year I officiated high school I had ejections, T’s, crew issues, etc. I was on the phone with the boss more than I was on the floor, it seemed. The next year, as the U1 or U2 at higher levels, I didn’t give a single technical foul. hmmm, coincidence? I believe it’s more than that. I believe the last year I was a high school crew chief, I had been given increased responsibility by my assignors. It was my duty to create a safe environment for my U1 and U2 and to “protect” them from the drama. It was my job as the crew chief to T the coach who was out of line with my partners. It was my job to help my young partners earn credibility with coaches by putting them in the safest situations possible. And I was being trusted to do so, without big-timing them. (key to success)
I believe so many crew chiefs have done that for me along the way. At the high school level people like Jeff C, Rick D, Robert J, and Robert S protected me without me even knowing. These guys are all still officiating and I am certain they still protect many young referees like they did me back in the day. They are the top rated officials year after year, and commissioners and assignors love them because of how they treat those passing through the league, either on the way up or the way down. They are class acts who can be a leader on the crew as the R, U1, or U2. Without a doubt they handle the game and create a safe environment for people like me working to be a better crew chief.
Two reflection questions:
- Are you creating a safe environment when you are the crew chief or do you create an environment of doubt and uncertainty?
- Can you think of a time when a crew chief protected you in a situation and you didn’t even realize til years later?
Our next post we will explore how great crew chiefs inspire and motivate and display integrity and honesty.