The New Generation of Racquet Sports Directors: Part II
How to Develop a Successful Director
By: Scott McCulloch
As seasoned leaders, we are charged with providing new Directors with the necessary tools, support and trust so they can confidently make decisions without fear of failure of the challenge. We can all identify past failures or challenges in our own experience that have helped us succeed today, and it’s important to frame such hurdles as learning opportunities for the leaders that come after us, particularly as these leaders are charged with spearheading the evolution of the racquet sports industry.
As a leader and firm believer in the “racquet sports” mindset, I have found that mentors and managers that groom the most successful Directors of Racquets have these qualities in common:
We not only have to manage the expectations of new and ambitious directors as they swing for the fences in their new role, but we also must manage our own expectations that we have for our new leader. By maintaining reasonable goals and ambitions on both ends, we can foster sustained growth for the long term.
Provide them with a framework to operate in, then have the trust to let them navigate on their own. Remember that each Director will have their own experiences that shape how they lead and the decisions they make, so once you’ve provided them with a solid foundation, give them the freedom to pave their own development path.
Provide a net of safety rather than a shadow of fear. Allow directors to make mistakes and provide them an environment where they can communicate with us through those mistakes and also have their back. A fear of failure leads to a stagnant leader and ultimately, a stunted program in the long run.
Support through education is a firm priority for us at CDT, and we have witnessed the benefits of new leaders time and again. Too often Directors can be left to their own devices, only to end up using outdated tools rather than expanding their knowledge areas with new resources and industry knowledge. Don’t be afraid to invest in your leaders’ education, particularly when it comes to the new and changing world of racquet sports. It will pay dividends in growth potential and ultimately efficiency in program operations.Listen
As you’re raising the next generation of racquet sports leaders, it can be easy to forget the most basic skill essential to a quality mentor/mentee relationship: listen. Continue to ask questions and listen to new Directors as it inspires and empowers them to step forward. Leading through listening will always grow the conversation and create open dialogue and confidence on both ends.
As the next generations forge ahead in the burgeoning racquets sports industry, I hope that we all lean into understanding what is important for them to be successful in that role. In addition, as placers of candidates in those positions, I hope we can foster a clear understanding of the growing responsibilities essential for the modern “Director of Racquets.” If we can hold up our end as the curator of the next generation, then the growth of our industry is only just beginning.