Are You Really Leading? Are You Coaching to the Goal?

By Michael Duke

The philosophy presented in Coach to the Goal is not new. But as a reader, you’ll be asked to view familiar situations in a new and different way. And if you’re a leader, my goal is to challenge you to ask yourself, “Why am I here? What is my preeminent responsibility as a leader, manager or supervisor?” My hope is that you’ll learn your role is to make a positive impact on people who are under your influence. The lens of a coach may help you see this more clearly.

And when you go home each day and ask yourself was today well-spent and did I do good, you will answer yes only when you have looked into the eyes of your people and with words that are strong, clear and compassionate somehow make them better than they were that morning. The growth may be barely noticeable to the naked eye.

But as their coach, you will notice and they will know that you know. The players on your team long for a leader who will teach; challenge; and love them right where they are.

As you become a coach, you’ll learn what winning really means. You’ll begin to keep score differently. And the journey of success will mean more than its attainment.

You’ll see more value in people than results and focus more on opportunities than failures. The faces will stand out over forms.

That which is excellent – but yet cannot be quantified – is the coach’s source of strength. Personal, emotional, mental and spiritual growth is the path toward victory – no matter what the scoreboard says. Why? True victory, which is sustainable over time, is not measured in an afternoon or a day but rather in a lifetime.

All the great coaches knew that it was never about the game. It has been and always will be about the players and making them great.

Great players have always found great coaches. It will always be this way. Those who are so fortunate as to grasp this elusive truth change the world together. Coach John Wooden got it. He and his UCLA Bruins altered the face of men’s college basketball. It will never be the same.

Coach Wooden “Coached to the Goal,” as sure as any man alive ever has. And what did he accomplish? He was named the Coach of the Century.

Because of Herb Kelleher and his Southwest Team, the airline industry is forever changed. Unlike the other guys, Southwest hasn’t experienced layoffs, cutbacks, strikes or bankruptcies. And they make more money. Why? Coach Kelleher “Coaches to the Goal.”

He lives by the mantra: Put your people first and they’ll love your customers and treat them like family.

The way to successfully impact the win/loss column is not a direct attack. Focus on winning. Talk about winning and you lose. You win when your people win. And they win when they’re taught to pursue and attain personal excellence in all they do.

They leave the team at some point and because you were their coach, they now know more about sacrifice, honor, effort, sportsmanship, integrity, love and life. How can they not win wherever they go? They are already winners. You taught them more than a game. You taught them how to live well and lose well with pride and honor.

I am excited that you want to learn to “Coach to the Goal” I am honored that you have picked up this book. The words on every page are from my heart and represent half a lifetime of lessons learned. I believe that leaders who coach are the most effective leaders of all. Why?

You find them “leading with the heart,” which by the way is the title of Coach K’s (Mike Krzyzewski, coach of the Duke University men’s basketball team) book on leadership.

I love to coach and learn. I challenge you to open up your heart and mind and push back on every page.” Teach me by sending me your thoughts to I look forward to hearing from you, as you learn to Coach to the Goal.