Having differences among the girls will bring challenges to building a positive team rapport. It is a breeding ground for cliques, hurt feelings, and bullying. Having differences among a group of people can bring challenges but can also be empowering. People are not just different by culture or race. We are different by experiences, thoughts, personalities, and styles. As a coach, we will create a safe space for the differences to flourish and grow the team. In this episode of IGNITE, we will learn effective ways to use differences to create a positive team energy. Here are TWO ideas to embracing differences among your team of girls:
★ Use the DIVERSITY for the POSITIVE.
Notice the diversity as strengths. Diversity promotes creativity and imagination. Diversity brings more ideas for problem solving and brainstorming. Each individual's unique background and thoughts create a space for each girl to feel acknowledged and accepted. Helen Keller said it beautifully- “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”
Take advantage of times to have small conversations with the girls individually or in small groups. Here are a few opportunities to take advantage of: while waiting for girls to change or fill up water bottles, snack time, walking/running laps, and completing their journal entries. Ask about their favorites in life- favorite sport to watch, favorite sport to play, favorite movie of the last year, favorite family tradition, favorite holiday, favorite time of the day, etc. Most importantly, do not forget to mention your favorites in the conversation! It’s important to build connections by making the conversation two-sided.
Notice and acknowledge the similarities. This may seem counterproductive to embracing differences. Yet, acknowledging similarities brings out the beauty in each individual’s uniqueness. It’s an invisible ribbon that wraps us as a team and provides a feeling of acceptance and inclusion.
★ INCLUSION is IMPORTANT.
Use inclusive language: “we”, “team”, “our”
Mix up groups fairly and randomly. Whether it is during warm-ups or laps or the lesson, mix up the groups by assigning numbers (colors, letters, animals). Then switch up the numbers on the next warm-up or lap. Have an individual/group lead while the rest of the team follows. Then switch it on the next warm-up or the next practice. Acknowledge it is important to be a leader, but it is equally important to be a follower sometimes. Every great leader has great followers who support and encourage
Use their “human” strengths to acknowledge their differences in a positive space. On every team, there are natural motivators, brainstormers, comedians, runners/joggers/walkers, assistants, caretakers, and helpers. Acknowledge and use them! Give them the title of “Assistant” or “Walking Leader” or “Cheerleader.” It is okay to have more than one who fits the title. This allows variation at each of the practices and within the team.
It is important for everyone on your GOTR team to feel safe, confident, and included. Our differences can cause barriers or can empower. As a GOTR coach, we embrace the differences on our team to support and encourage each GOTR girl as an individual. We create a positive, safe space for our team to have fun, be challenged, and succeed! We as a GOTR coach, IGNITE our differences to inspire and empower!
Shayla A is the Coach Mentor for Girls on the Run Kansas City. Her background comes from the classroom, coaching, day treatment schools, wellness, and advocating for children with special needs. She enjoys empowering and advocating for girls and coaches in every challenge and celebration. Connect with her for support and assistance this season via Leigh Krtec.
BOOK LIST TO DIVE DEEPER INTO EMBRACING DIFFERENCES ON A TEAM:
TO WATCH A VIDEO ON HOW TO EMBRACE DIFFERENCES WITH YOUR GIRLS: https://youtu.be/T4dOPJviKX0
We inspire girls to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates running. Non-profit girl empowerment after-school program for girls.
11880 College Blvd. Ste. 201
Overland Park, KS 66210