Can a coach be both liked and successful?

Back in the day, Vince Lombardi was extremely successful as coach of the Green Bay Packers.

His persona was gruff, rough and tough, but he was considered to be a great coach. His line, ?Winning isn?t everything, it?s the only thing,? became legendary.

I don?t know how well- liked he was by players, but he won, so it didn?t really matter all that much.

But is it an oxymoron for a coach to both be liked and successful?

Don?t assume that a coach who produces winning teams is easy to like. However, winning probably makes it easier to like or at least tolerate a coach.

What athletes from high school to college think about a coach is likely dictated by the amount of playing time he or she gets. Most athletes also want to be respected and have a sense that the coach is doing whatever it takes to give the team a chance to win.

Playing time will help determine what a professional athlete thinks about a coach, as will the amount of money management pays them.

That said, it shouldn?t be surprising that if you ask athletes to articulate what they want in a head coach, they?d likely covet honesty, fairness and intelligence. They would be less fond of a coach who acts like a benevolent dictator.

At the professional level especially, players appear to want a coach they can trust with their careers and with their dreams.

Last winter, ESPN.com surveyed 320 players in the National Football League to find out who the most appealing coach to play for is these days.

The winner was Seattle?s Pete Carroll, who received 72 votes or 23 percent of the final tally. That?s significant, considering that the second-ranked coach on that list, Pittsburgh?s Mike Tomlin, received only 44 votes, and the third, Denver?s John Fox, garnered 25.

Rex Ryan of the New York Jets ranked fourth with 23 votes. New England?s Bill Belichick, a man with three Super Bowl victories, wound up fifth with 22 votes, tied with Kansas City?s Andy Reid.

At the very least, these results reveal that winning a championship isn?t the sole factor in determining player satisfaction or happiness. If that were the case, players wouldn?t have picked five head coaches in the top seven who hadn?t hoisted a Lombardi trophy. Remember, Carroll had not won a Super Bowl yet when the poll was taken.

What separates Carroll from his coaching brethren?

Writing on ESPN.com, Jeffri Chadiha said: ?Carroll has gone out of his way to separate himself from nearly every head coach who has worked in this profession.

?Carroll will blast music from players? iPods during full-team drills, interact with guests who come by to watch and carry himself as if he?s the host of a house party instead of the multimillion-dollar face of an NFL franchise. He seems capable of having more fun in one afternoon than most coaches have in an entire season.

?That unbridled pleasure is something players notice and share with their peers around the league. It leads to inspiration and interaction while creating a bond that is the foundation of Carroll?s success in Seattle.

?Carroll has mastered the art of giving everything of himself and baring his soul as much as any head coach can. It?s a rare feat for any man running an NFL team to attempt. It?s quite remarkable to see somebody pull it off as effectively as Carroll has in Seattle.?

Ultimately though, I believe a coach has to work within his or her personality. One style does not fit all. While not all coaches are liked, they had better have the respect of their team, or success for the coach and the team is sure to suffer.

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