A Look at Muhammad Ali and Angelo Dundee: 4 Keys to Successful Coaching

Standing behind Muhammad Ali in all but two fights, Angelo Dundee was the man that lead him to become the first three-time world heavyweight champion. Dundee was famous for his words of positivity and encouragement that brought out the best in Ali, or “the kid” as he referred to him.

Even still, Dundee refrained from taking credit for Ali’s many wins by saying, “Muhammad (was) aware of what to look for and he handled it on his own. He did his own thing. I never programmed him.”

Part of what maintained the special bond between the two was Dundee’s ability to give of himself and remind Ali to “notice who is in the locker room after you lose, not after you win.”

Although the coaching relationship between Angelo Dundee and Muhammad Ali is highly admired in the world of sports, many of the characteristics can be applied to coaching relationships outside of the arena.

The four keys to being a successful coach

1) Don’t give solutions, assist in finding solutions

This is a difficult temptation to avoid when the answer seems clear. However, the best learning comes from moments of personal discovery. Since it is necessary to challenge the thinking of the individual being coached from time to time, answers should not be given right out of the gate. Instead, the individual should be guided through a solution process.

2) Provide guidance based on personal experiences

One of the most constructive teaching tools is the use of a story. By giving personal examples, lessons become easier to understand, engage with, and apply to other circumstances. This sort of transparency also creates a space for trust to be built between the coach and the individual.

 3) Actively listen

This means listening to understand the entire picture before helping the individual to craft a solution. In order to truly understand any situation, there needs to be strong awareness of all the factors at play and the various perspectives of them. So, part of the listening process may require asking questions!

 4) Help to set goals and identify obstacles

Before any goals can be identified, an accurate assessment of the current reality needs to be taken into account. The various ways of moving forward also need to be acknowledged in accordance with what the individual’s end goals are.

Healthy coaching relationships create a space for learning and growth to occur without the fear of failure to impede progress. Having someone to go to for advice, help, and inspiration busts open the realm of possibility and encourages improvement. Not only does this trust create a stronger bond between two individuals, it impacts entire organizations by creating more supportive environments.

At SDI, we’re focused on creating solutions to help organizations achieve their desired goals. If you’re ready to start developing better coaches and leaders in your organization contact us!

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