#InspiredCoaching: Reflection is key to successful leadership

Notre Dame Fighting Irish head coach Brian Kelly runs onto the field with his players before a game at Notre Dame Stadium.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish head coach Brian Kelly runs onto the field with his players before a game at Notre Dame Stadium. Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

When Head Football Coach Brian Kelly came to the University of Notre Dame in 2009, the team had a dismal record. It needed to be rebooted and revitalized.

One of the key things Kelly did to lead the team forward was to reflect—reflect on each game, the coaches and the players. Are they doing the right thing on a daily basis? Are they committed? Do they have a great attitude?

He uses answers to those questions to guide him as he leads the team.

“Are we building the traits necessary for them to continue to work towards a championship and graduate?” Kelly said of his student-athletes. “If they’re doing that, we’re doing our job.”

Notre Dame Fighting Irish head coach Brian Kelly watches warmups before a game at Notre Dame Stadium.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish head coach Brian Kelly watches warmups before a game at Notre Dame Stadium. Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

#InspiredCoaching partnership

Kelly shared his strategy with USAToday.com thanks to a partnership between Amway, USA TODAY and the American Football Coaches Association. The partnership represents Amway’s continued commitment to #inspiredcoaching, highlighting the parallels between winning teams in sports and business.

After 36 years as a football coach, Kelly sees the need for reflection—at the game level and at the program level.

That’s why, at the end of each season, Kelly conducts exit interviews with his players and coaching staff, reflecting on the successes and challenges of the past year and how to improve the next year.

“I think leadership requires an inventory check year in and year out as our world changes, so, you have to adapt to that change.”

Notre Dame Fighting Irish head coach Brian Kelly at Notre Dame Stadium.

Self-reflection is key, too

He holds himself to that standard, too, learning from each mistake and bump along the way.

“Leadership is one where you have to be humble as a leader; you have to show that you’re not infallible, you can make mistakes,” Kelly said. “I think people around you resonate to that. They can associate with those that can admit that they made a mistake.”

Read more

You can see the full story at USAToday.com. And learn more about the Amway Coaches Poll and the Coaches’ Trophy presented by Amway at Amway.com.

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