A person's real leadership is not seen while she's sitting behind a desk. I tell my assistants all the time, you can do all the classroom and film work you want, but it's getting down and dirty with the players, showing them exactly what you want them to do, that gets the job done.
Here's why: You put on some film of your next opponent playing some other team, and the tape starts going, and my player sees some guy get hit in the mouth, and he starts visualizing seeing stars and blood coming out of his nose, and then all that film study goes out the window. All the player is thinking is, 'That guy is going to hit me in the mouth.' So now what do I do? I can't show him how to block that guy on a film. I've got to get out there on that field and show him, 'This is what you've got to do.'
Not everyone can take what he sees on a video or on a blackboard and apply it on the grass. Actually, I'd say the majority of our players fall into that category. Some guys are more visually oriented than others. John Lynch was one of the few who could see something once and then go out and do it. But most guys can't do that. You've got to take them out on the field and repeat what was on that video or on that blackboard and do it over and over again. You've got to put your feet in the dirt and say, 'This is how you do it now.' You've got to find a way to teach everybody because everybody doesn't learn the same way. Plus, I find that my younger players are impressed that I can still go out and do what it is that I'm trying to get them to do.
I find the same thing with kids, too. At my camp, which we have annually for more than 500 kids in Monterey, California, near where I was raised, I'm out there on the field all the time, demonstrating moves, footwork, routes, and catching techniques. And it's what I tell the guys who volunteer their time to help coach these kids, too. You can make them sit down and read a playbook, but it's always more effective if you show them yourself how to do something the right way.
It's a good technique, and not just in football. Say you want your kids to learn good manners-show them by example. If they see you doing things the right way, they naturally will follow. Correct them, of course, when they make a mistake, but don't become one of those 'do as I say, not as I do' parents if you want your children to exhibit the right kind of behavior.
In business today, everyone seems to be obsessed with PowerPoint programs. They put up a big screen and take their employees through a step-by-step explanation of how to do something, like filling out time sheets or expense reports. They spend hours giving their employees information, showing them these slides, quizzing them on what the procedure is, and then when it comes time to actually fill out the form, most of the employees have already forgotten what they've been told. I think it would have been far more effective if the manager of the group had given the employees an actual form and allowed them to fill it out and make mistakes and ask questions and really get the process embedded in their minds. Doing always has a bigger impact than showing. If you want someone to learn a task, show him first. Don't just talk to him.