Matthew Raidbard

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Matthew Raidbard is the author of the new book, Lead Like a Pro.  He is also the Executive Senior Associate Athletic Director for Administration, Compliance, and Student-Athlete Success at the University of Hartford.

Matthew was previously a college basketball coach for more than a decade

After graduating from Indiana University, his first college basketball coaching job was at Western New Mexico University.  After leaving Western New Mexico, Matthew served as a men’s basketball coach at Dartmouth College, Florida Gulf Coast University, and Chicago State University. While working at Chicago State he completed his Doctorate in Educational Leadership, where his dissertation focused on determining the best leadership style and behaviors for athletic coaches to practice.  His book, “Lead Like A Pro,” provides coaches with foundational leadership knowledge and the tools to become the type of leader that aligns with their personal values and beliefs

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Take some notes on Leadership as you listen to this episode with Matthew Raidbard, author of Lead Like A Pro.

What We Discuss with Matthew Raidbard

  • The main themes of his new book “Lead Like a Pro”
  • Skipping school to stay home for college basketball’s championship week
  • Helping his Dad coach his younger brother’s AAU team during high school
  • Writing emails to every coach at every level when he graduated from college to try and find a coaching job
  • Getting an opportunity at Western New Mexico University
  • Not realizing how much non-basketball related tasks that coaches have to do to be successful
  • The why behind helping kids through the game of basketball
  • Going from Western New Mexico to Dartmouth and working to get “up to speed” at the D1 Level
  • His other coaching stops at Florida Gulf Coast and Chicago State
  • “Coaching is a really difficult profession. You have to do things to make yourself stand out.”
  • While writing his dissertation he realized that coaches were not receiving enough leadership training to reach their potential
  • Getting started on his book and the momentary panic he felt before settling in
  • Creating the first outline for the book
  • The importance of figuring out your own personal vales and beliefs as a coach
  • Know who you are as a leader and make decisions in support of that
  • Why you should try to learn from coaches that have a different leadership style than you
  • Invest in yourself and your program so others will invest as well
  • The most successful coaches have the smallest leadership gap and what you can do to close yours
  • How to become a more transformational leader
  • Being a mentor-leader for your players
  • Why coaches need to be empathetic and how doing so impacts their coaching
  • Don’t just hear…listen
  • Measuring continual improvement and how to define success
  • Is the experience of playing for your program a positive one for the players?
  • Do players come back to visit after they graduate?

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[00:00:00] Mike Klinzing: [00:00:00] Hello, and welcome to the Hoop Heads Podcast. It’s Mike Klinzing here with my co-host Jason Sunkle tonight, and we are pleased to welcome to the podcast the author of the new book “Lead like a Pro” Matthew Raidbard. Matthew, welcome to the Hoop Heads Pod.

Matthew Raidbard: [00:00:15] Thanks so much for having me on guys. I’m excited to be here.

Mike Klinzing: [00:00:18] We are excited to be able to talk to you about your book. It dovetails with a lot of the themes that we’ve talked about here on the podcast. In the past, before we get into your background, I want to give you a chance to give us the 30 second elevator pitch on your book. Just tell us a little bit about “Lead like a Pro” and what it’s all about.

Matthew Raidbard: [00:00:39] Yeah, so I wrote the book for coaches at all levels of sports, and I really wanted it to be a resource for coaches to be able to learn more about leadership practice and leadership styles, and then how to apply them to their own coaching career. So I really wanted to make it one of those books that coaches could get and [00:01:00] have in their office and dog ear and come back to as, as their leadership practice and their coaching style continues to evolve year after year.

Mike Klinzing: [00:01:08] Excellent. We’re going to dive deeper into the book in a few minutes, but before we do that, just to give people a little bit of a perspective on where you’re coming from, let’s talk a little bit about your background, both in athletics and in coaching. Take us back to when you were a kid and walk us through how you eventually got into the coaching profession.

Matthew Raidbard: [00:01:32] Yeah, so I always loved basketball growing up. Love playing basketball. You know, my dad hung a hoop on the garage when I was young and stay out there until it was too dark to see the hoop, just shooting baskets, working on my game. And you know, I was really tall growing up, so I gravitated to basketball and I had some.

And I I was always the center of the big man and you know, did pretty well. And when I was in the eighth grade, I was six feet tall [00:02:00] and I never grew another inch. And at that point in high school, I started looking around and the guards were as tall as me, but I had only big man skills. So I kind of realized maybe this isn’t for me, but I always loved basketball.

I always love college basketball growing up you know, I never. I never faked sick during those first few days, the tournament, I always fake six, so I could stay home during championship week. And that on that Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, cause I always love watching the conference tournaments that winter go home mentality.

You’d never know what’s going to happen. And I especially love watching the smaller schools. The one did leagues the mid-majors. I loved watching those championship games and seeing when they won the players and the coaches run onto the court and just, just that outpouring of emotion and making the NCAA tournament.

And I, I just, I wanted that feeling and I wanted to be a college basketball coach. And as I kind of progressed in high school a little bit, my, [00:03:00] my dad was coaching my brother’s team, my younger brother, and I started helping him out and I pretty quickly realize I had. Before it, and I seemed like I was pretty good at it and related to the kids pretty well.

And I eventually took it over. I did that during college and it just became my dream just to be a college basketball coach. So when my, my time in college was winding down, I figured that was the best time for me to go and pursue my dream.

Mike Klinzing: [00:03:28] All right. So if my information is correct, you have a degree in history and classical studies from Indiana university.

Is that right? That is right. All right. So how does that take you from that being your major to coaching? Did you add other words, did you always know when you selected that major was the idea that maybe you were going to be a history teacher and a coach. Did you know you wanted to coach college basketball is supposed to high school basketball just explained to me how you went from that major to, Hey.

All right. I’m going to, [00:04:00] I’m going to coach, especially since you had coaching in the back of your mind, it sounds like for a long time,

Matthew Raidbard: [00:04:04] Yeah. So I always knew I wanted to coach college basketball specifically, just everything about college sports just always spoke to me. You know, just the, the pageantry, the tradition the tournaments, the conferences, the mascots, everything just always spoke to me.

So it was always college basketball that I wanted to coach and that I love you know, for me, like a lot of things in my life the decision to be a history and classical studies major, it started off with, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I didn’t really have a, a career, a specific career path in mind, or a specific major in mind when I got to college, but I always loved history.

I always loved Roman history and I just decided, okay, I don’t know what I want to do, but let me take a few classes that at least are interesting to me and see where things. And that’s always kind of been my personality, which is [00:05:00] follow the things that are interesting to me and see where they lead and kind of let those things play out.

So but as I kind of went through college and, and all my friends and everybody around me was kind of figuring out what they wanted to do. You know, I thought maybe I could be a teacher. Maybe I could go back go do more school. I, but nothing really spoke to me. It was always in the back of my mind college basketball, coaching, coaching, and it was one of those things where it wasn’t until I was getting ready to start my last semester when I said I don’t really know what I want to do, but just like history, classical studies, I always loved it.

So I went with it and it, it worked out pretty well. I had a great. You know, I, I, I always want him to be a coach. Why, why put that dream off? Why way let’s just go for it now.

Mike Klinzing: [00:05:49] What was that pursuit like of the first job? Because we know that in a lot of cases, when you’re talking about college basketball positions, you’re talking about people that have [00:06:00] a network or are connected to someone.

So how did you go about getting connected to your first job, which was at Western New Mexico university? How did you find that job?

Matthew Raidbard: [00:06:11] Honestly, guy, and to this date? I am, I am terrible at networking. I just my wife always kids, me that you know, I’m like adverse to chit-chat. You know, I’m, I’m always like, let’s work, let’s get something done.

Let’s figure something out. And she’s always telling me, like, you got to network, you got to chit chat. Like when I was a coach, he was always like, pat, you got to talk to people. You can’t just like go to the final four and just go to all the actual lectures. You got to actually talk to people here. But you know, but you know, breaking in you know, I, I got no relatives.

I didn’t play college basketball, no, relative to her in college coaching, no friends, nothing like that. But you know, the kind of other thing about me is I’m never afraid to try anything because I would rather just try it and fail then, then not try it at [00:07:00] all. So I just started thinking of ways, like how could I reach out to coaches?

How could I. You know, I’m this unknown guy, how can I kind of try to create this networking opportunity? And so I basically just kind of wrote up like a coaching resume of the, the accomplishments that we had had coaching my brother’s travel team. Cause we, we had been very good. So I kind of created a little coaching resume and wrote a cover letter and decided that I was going to email just every coach.

I starting, I just started with America, east Albany you know, went to their staff directory, picked out that head coach and sent him my email, sent him my letter with. My whole thing about it. You know, I love coaching. I’m trying to break in and I’m willing to do anything. And if you’ll give me a chance and I’ll never forget 18 minutes in.

I wasn’t even through emailing all the American east schools, I got, I got my first rejection. Thanks for the email, but you know, we don’t have any opportunities, [00:08:00] but you know, I went through all of division one. Then I went to division two and three and AIA and junior college and repeat. And you know, along the way, some coaches, I a lot of coaches responded.

They were, they were super nice. Some of them offered advice. They say, keep in touch, but on my second time around. The head coach Mark Holman at Western New Mexico. He emailed me and he said you know, I got your emails and my assistant might be leaving this summer, keep in touch. And so I kept in touch and I emailed him every two weeks on the date every two weeks, Monday sent him an email following up and eventually his assistant coach left you know, right.

You know, in the middle of the summer. And he said to me, he said, look I, I can’t fly out here. I was living in Chicago at the time. He said, I can’t fly you out. I can’t even pay for your gas, but if you can get yourself out here, we can [00:09:00] do an interview. And so I drove, it’s a 20, about 24 hours, 1600 miles from Chicago to silver city.

I drove to silver city. And I got there drove in, it was about two, two days. And then I drove in the next morning and we did the interview and that night he offered me the job. And a couple of weeks later, I was making that drive again, moving back out to silver city to start working.

Mike Klinzing: [00:09:27] That’s quite a story I give you credit for sending those emails.

When I graduated from college, I wanted to be a graduate assistant. And the year that I graduated in 1992 on foresee was the year that the NCAA cut back from two graduate assistants per division, one staff to one. And I was in the days pre email. So I was typing out letters and printing them on my dot matrix printer in my dorm room, which needless to say I was not nearly as efficient.

I’m sure as you were in utilizing email, so. [00:10:00] Email, every single coach at all the different levels of college basketball like you did. And eventually I gave up on like, you continue to pursue it. And I decided to go and eventually go a different direction and go back to school at a business degree and went back to school so I could teach it eventually coach in the high school for you getting that first college job, what was unique about it or what was something that maybe you didn’t realize you were going to have to do as a coach?

That was a new experience for you? Cause obviously you hadn’t necessarily been around a college basketball staff. You had been around the game as a coach with your brother’s travel team, but a little bit different at the college level. What do you remember about that?

Matthew Raidbard: [00:10:45] Yeah, honestly, I was totally naive to what it, what it meant to be a college basketball coach.

So I honestly, I, and it’s, it’s, it feels so silly to even say it now after all these years, but I took that job and I [00:11:00] thought I’m a college coach. Now this is my full-time job. Essentially. I am going to recruit, I’m going to coach it practice, and I’m going to coach in the games and there’ll be a few other things.

Sure. But that’s going to be most of my job and I’ll never forget. I wasn’t even a month in. I called my dad and I said, dad, like, when do I get to do that stuff? Like I’m checking classes, I’m monitoring study hall. I’m taking the guys to eat, I’m driving them around. We’re sitting in my office having therapy sessions, we’re talking through things like dad, I’m doing all this other stuff.

I had no idea I was going to have to do. And I, cause I just didn’t realize like coaches are asked to do so many different things. It’s even more, I mean, every year I was in coaching, I was doing more things that are outside of traditional X’s and O’s recruitment there. You, you [00:12:00] just, the job is just so much bigger or it was so much bigger when I got in to coaching than I ever thought it was going to be.

Mike Klinzing: [00:12:09] Yeah. I think that most people, even if you’ve been in the profession. And, or you’ve been a player or you’ve been a manager, which is a route that a lot of coaches are taking now to get into college coaching. I still think that when you become a full-time assistant coach, there’s a lot of things that you don’t necessarily realize that you have to do.

And we’ve talked to a lot of coaches, too. Matthew, who have transitioned from being an assistant coach to a head coach. And that theme I think is pretty similar there too, where they say, boy, I didn’t realize all the things that my head coach had to do or has to do when I’m an assistant that I just kind of take for granted because the head coach has so many more responsibilities as the leader of the program.

I think it’s a great point that you make that as you’re going through. And I think this speaks to high [00:13:00] school coaches as well, that there’s this way more responsibility and time currently than there ever has been in the past. So does that new experiences, that’s cement your idea that, Hey, I love. What I’m doing, even though it wasn’t what, even there’s a lot more to it than what I thought.

Did you immediately fall in love with all those things that you had to do beyond maybe what you thought you were going to do going in?

Matthew Raidbard: [00:13:27] So I did and what it taught me my, my two years at Western Mexico taught me was you know, I love college basketball and I love coaching, but those are really just vehicles for what my passion was, which was working with and helping young people learn and grow and develop.

And that’s, that’s what it boiled down to what I was doing with the, the kids on my brother’s travel team was you know, I found so much just fulfillment and happiness in, in watching their [00:14:00] success. And I didn’t understand it at the time at the time I thought winning feels good, right? This, this is great.

I want to win. I want to be the coach. I want to be responsible for. But as I kind of matured in coaching, I realized, yeah, those are, those are the things I love. Those are, those are the vehicles for me to be able to do what I’m really passionate about, which is, which is helping young people through the sport of basketball, particularly college aged kids.

Mike Klinzing: [00:14:26] That’s a really, really good way to put it. I think when people ask me, in fact, I just had a questionnaire that I filled out today because I’m going to be a guest on a podcast tomorrow. And one of the questions they asked me was what’s your coaching? Why? And my answer for my coaching wise, almost exactly verbatim what you just said, which is I get to use a game that I love to be able to have an impact.

The players that I coach both hopefully on and off the court. And I [00:15:00] think if you’re doing that as a coach, then you’re really serving. The players that are underneath your tutelage as a coach. And to me, that’s really what it’s all about. And when I think about what drives me in the game of basketball, I think I’m a lot like you in that early on coaching was much more about me and what I could get out of it or what I could put into it.

And as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that it’s a lot more about the kids that are in front of me, whether it’s at one of my basketball camps or it’s a new team that I’m coaching or whatever it may be, that it becomes more about them and less about me. And that’s something that I didn’t come to right away in my career.

It’s something that it took me a long time, I think, to get there maybe longer than it should have, but when you. I think back to those early years, and then you had an opportunity to go to a couple other places. So let’s just kind of buzz through your stops. Tell us a little bit, maybe one thing or two things that you learned at each your other three stops, and then we’ll get the, I want to dive into the book.

[00:16:00] So your next stop after Western New Mexico is Dartmouth, how do you get to the Ivy league?

Matthew Raidbard: [00:16:05] So basically same way. Just went back. I, I committed to two years of Western Mexico had a really great experience, was ready for the next experience and just went back to the emailing, just sending out by resume, sending out information and was really fortunate.

I had another kind of similar, similar circumstance where you know, Terry Dunn, who is my head coach at Dartmouth just said I’m going to be, I’m going to be here. Can you make it here? Let’s have an interview talk through. And so it kind of, kind of went through that kind of similar exercise to get out to Dartmouth.

The Dartmouth experience was such a polar opposite to the Western Mexico experience. I went from rural, New Mexico. Now I’m in the IVLE and, but what I realized in the Ivy league or when I was at Dartmouth and now I’m at division one was it’s go time here. Like when I was at division two.

Okay. You know, my, my head coach was great. He understood I’m [00:17:00] learning. You know, when I got to west Mexico, half the players were older than me. You know, it was one of those where like, you’re, you’re working, you’re working out some bugs, you’re working through. You know, when I got to Dartmouth we had two really great experienced other assistant coach on the staff.

This is their lives. They’ve been in this 20, 25 years. This is they’re alive there. There’s no messing around. There’s no kind of oh I gotta take it slow. I gotta it’s go time. Like you gotta move. You gotta be learning on the fly. You gotta be absorbing things really fast and you gotta be ready to go.

And it took me a little while to get up to speed. And thankfully I had a couple of really good mentors. There were those assistant coaches who were willing to coach me because you know, there were points early on. There were things are moving fast. I’m trying to learn the terminology. I’m trying to learn all these different things we’re doing.

And you know, I’m, I’m falling behind, I’m drowning a little bit here. And I was really lucky there that they were kind of coaching me up and [00:18:00] working through some things with me, but the pace really picked up when I, when I got to Dartmouth and, and got to division.

Mike Klinzing: [00:18:07] I would imagine you, as you get to a different level, and obviously you reached the highest level of college basketball division one, that there is a different set of responsibilities at different pace, as you said.

And just a different, I would imagine, even though it’s the Ivy league have different pressure around that coaching staff. And as you said, when you’re dealing with people who that’s their career, that’s their livelihood. And as much as they might want to hold your hand and coach you, there’s still a, Hey, we got to get this stuff done.

And I’m sure that it accelerated your learning curve as you. You know, went into your, continue to go on in your career. Your next two stops Florida Gulf coast, and then Chicago state where you spent eight years there. Talk us, talk us through those two stops quickly, and then we’ll dive into the book.

Matthew Raidbard: [00:18:52] Yeah.

You know, Florida Gulf coast was you know, I was really fortunate to have a lot of good experiences work for some really good [00:19:00] people. Worked for Dave balls are their tremendous human being. Like all the guys I worked for. And so that was a good transition there for me had a really nice staff. Coach was, was really great, really inclusive with the staff.

So had a good experience there really kind of grounding myself individually and taking some of those things I learned at Dartmouth and applying some of them. And then just kind of taking all those experiences, going to Chicago state where you know, walking in our head, coach, Tracy, Dale, my mentor You know, new staff, brand new staff, all walking in together, same time and really getting to kind of build from the ground up our vision of what we wanted the team and the program to be, and kind of go through all those failures, successes, failures, successes, and really just there being there for eight years, really be able to see kind of that whole life cycle of the program through which is just a tremendous experience and really had a huge impact on me as a coach, a [00:20:00] person, and also once I got into administration and moving forward in other leadership roles,

Mike Klinzing: [00:20:06] at what point does the idea of writing this book, come on the horizon for you.

When do you start thinking about it? Is this something that you’ve had in the back of your mind that, Hey, someday, I’d like to write a book? Was it something that you had a moment of inspiration? How did it come.

Matthew Raidbard: [00:20:23] So 2013 or 14 when I was at Chicago state you know, won the conference championship, went to postseason, had a great year, 13, 14.

We were in the WAC, the Western athletic conference had a really great year, had some big wins. And I felt like I had a lot of momentum in my coaching career and went into that summer after the 13, 14 season you know, coached. And I thought it’s time to move up, get another job, really start pushing my career forward.

And I, I couldn’t get another job. And I went back to Chicago state. We had built for four years. We had kind of reached a little bit of a peak. [00:21:00] That next year we took a step back. You know, we were struggling a little bit and I started thinking to myself what can I do to make myself better?

What can I do to advance my career, make myself different. I always tell young coaches th this is a really difficult profession. You, you gotta do things to, to make yourself stand out. So I decided at that point to explore going back to school. When I was at Western Mexico, I got my master’s in education leadership.

And just started thinking about going back to school, maybe pursuing a doctorate and Chicago state. It just happened to work out that Chicago state originally was a teacher’s college, and they had a, an educational leadership doctoral program. And so spent 15, 16 just doing everything to, to go through that whole application process, taking the GREs, doing all that stuff again, and got accepted and entered the program and was doing the program while I was coaching.

And it was. It was learning so [00:22:00] much applying it to my, my coaching career. And it was when I was doing my dissertation, which was on athletic coach college basketball leadership practice, where I kind of went through that whole study. And I realized in that study from, from the data and all the research that coaches were not receiving enough leadership training and they didn’t have enough leadership resources to really reach their leadership potential.

And I had this aha moment when I’m going through this data and coming to these conclusions that. I I’ve identified a problem. I’m always big on, if you identify a problem, don’t just say what the problem is, provide solutions for that problem. Do something about that problem you’ve identified. So I thought I’ve identified this problem.

I can relate to it because I’ve been a coach who has been looking for leadership tools and resources, my whole career and not found as many of them as I would have hoped. So what can I [00:23:00] do to kind of help fill this gap for coaches? And that was the aha moment to me to take what I had done in my research and turn it into a book that was like I talked about earlier, that was a resource for coaches to be able to help them be better leaders.

Mike Klinzing: [00:23:15] What do you remember about that first day sitting down to start writing.

Matthew Raidbard: [00:23:20] So I remember a lot of things, but you know, I remember being a little panicked. I remember thinking like, like in a lot of things you, you take these risks and you get there and you have this. Oh, my gosh, I’m actually doing this.

I have to do this. Now. I had it when I got to Western New Mexico and I looked around and said, okay, I asked to go be a college basketball coach. Now I have to figure this out right now. Same thing with the book. I had the idea. I, it sounded great. I found an editor. I made a pitch. I found an editor, mascot books.

They’ve been tremendous. And they said, okay, [00:24:00] great. Let’s do it. And you know, we got off the phone. And then that night I sat down at the computer and I said, oh my God, I have to do this. Now I am committed to this. I have to do this. And I’m just one of those moment. And then, then of course you sit there at the computer for a little while and you tell yourself, you could do this.

You’ve done difficult things before. And eventually you get to the point where, okay, I believe it now. And I’m going to start writing and you just go from there.

Mike Klinzing: [00:24:29] Did you put together an outline first? The total scope of the book, or did you just start writing and getting thoughts down on paper and then thinking about organizing them maybe later after the fact, which process better describes how you went about it?

Matthew Raidbard: [00:24:47] So I put together an outline. I had the idea to do the book. So I Googled, how do you how do you write a book proposal to pitch an editor and I kind of followed that format and I kind of [00:25:00] had an outline in my head that ended up being somewhat true to the book. It definitely changed somewhat during the writing process, but I started out with kind of the outline and then filled it in with some ideas so that the pitch had enough substance to where they kind of saw the direction of where the book was going to go.

And also, I kind of knew once I sat down. Okay. I don’t have to totally panic here. I’ve got a bunch of ideas. I just need to start. I started expanding on them.

Mike Klinzing: [00:25:28] That’s a good way to look at it. I think that. When you start to try to organize yourself in any way, shape or form, any type of writing. I think when you sit down and you start to put those thoughts down on paper, it can take that panic away.

I know that I’ve written, not a book, but I’ve written lots of blog posts. And I actually collaborated with my dad on a couple of books, but I would say he probably took the lead on those back in the day. But nonetheless, when you sit down to write, it feels like before you [00:26:00] put pen to paper, before you start typing on the computer, it can be very, very over overwhelming.

And then once you realize, Hey, I do have a lot of ideas. I do have a lot of things that I can get out there and then organizing them, then get them to fit into the structure that you’ve developed. And it seems like that’s sort of what you were able to do. One of the things that as I’m looking through and thinking about your book, one of the words that comes through a lot is the word.

Intentional and the need for coaches to be intentional about what they do with leadership. And actually, that’s one of my favorite words. And Jason can probably attest to this, that I’ve used this in a lot of different interviews when talking about coaches and we’re talking about things that coaches should or shouldn’t do.

And I relate that to myself and to lots of coaches in the profession that oftentimes there’s things that we want to do, but it’s easy for those things to slip away when we’re [00:27:00] not intentional. So just talk about how important it is in your mind for coaches to be intentional about the way they lead.

Matthew Raidbard: [00:27:08] So I, and I totally agree.

I, and I absolutely, I talk about intentionality a lot because without being intentional, you lose out on a lot of the potential outcomes and process that you can get from, from making attention. Decision. So I kind of went down to when you’re looking at anything. So when I’m looking at leadership practice, right.

If I just go out there and I say, I’m going to do these things, I’m just, I’m going to go with my God. I’m just going to coach from the hip. Okay. If it works, I don’t entirely know why, if it doesn’t work, I don’t entirely know why, but if I say, okay I I’ve, I’ve gotten some leadership training. I’ve thought about this a lot.

I know what my coaching style is. I know that the type of leader [00:28:00] I want to be for me, I always gravitated toward transformational leadership. Just, I I’m just a positive person. Try to be upbeat. Motivational, uplifting, always want to develop personal relationships with my players. If, if I’ve done the background work and I, and I’ve done the reflection and I know those things about myself, and I know about transformational leadership.

Now I can go and say, I’m going to put those things into practice. And then if they work, it’s a lot easier for me to go back to the process and figure out why and replicate it, or if they’re not working, if I’m not getting those outcomes again, I can go back and self-critique and say, okay, maybe in these situations, I wasn’t doing this certain thing the way that I wanted to, or it didn’t work out the way that I wanted to.

So for me being intentional, it goes back to really having that, that being in touch with this is what I, this is what I’m about. [00:29:00] This is my, these are my values and beliefs. And then building off of that and making very specific decisions so that you can get those outcomes that you want. And if you don’t know why, so that you can work on whatever you realize the issue was and make yourself better.

So I I’m totally with you that making intentional choices is so key to the.

Mike Klinzing: [00:29:25] And I think what I hear you saying is that that intentionality allows you then to self-evaluate both in a positive and a negative way. In other words, what am I doing? That’s working, what am I doing? That’s not working. And if I’ve been intentional about the choices that I’ve made as a leader, that I can go back and evaluate those choices to figure out, okay, I need to do more of these positive things.

I need to do less of these negative things. And that starts to lead me down a path of being the type of leader. That I want to be. And one of the things that you have in chapter, one [00:30:00] of the book is talking about how coaches have to make sure that the way that they lead is true to themselves, that they’re not just trying to copy another coach.

They’re not just trying to be Mike Shashefski. They’re not just trying to be Gregg Popovich. Cause that’s what they see on TV. But instead they’re true to their personality. They have to lead one of the things you always hear coaches say, you hear people say it in all walks of life, that players, kids, employees, if you’re not true to yourself, if you’re trying to be something that you’re not, it’s easy to sniff that out.

So just talk about why it’s important to be yourself when it comes to being a leader in your mind.

Matthew Raidbard: [00:30:42] Absolutely. And I feel like that’s a very common mistake for coaches at all levels all experience levels, but particularly young coaches. I know that was something that was a kind of mistake that I fell into early in my career was not having really a lot of, really any [00:31:00] experience in, in college coaching.

You know, I naturally gravitated towards what are the most successful leaders doing? What are the best coaches doing? I’m going to watch them, I’m going to study them. I’m going to read their books and I’m going to go replicate it. And I’m going to be successful. And. You know, through some trial and error, I realized that the reason why Mike Shashefski Gregg Popovich, so many other coaches are as successful as they are, is because they’ve figured out what are their personal values and beliefs.

What’s important to them. What’s important for them to portray to their team. And then they’ve aligned their leadership practice with those things. And that’s what makes them successful. They know exactly who they are and all the decisions that they make for their teams, for their athletes supports those beliefs.

So if you believe you’re a positive person, then your [00:32:00] actions should then reflect upon that belief that you have. And no leaders are the same, right? Nobody has the exact same leadership style as anybody else, but the best leaders like. They know exactly who they are. It doesn’t mean that they don’t make mistakes.

It doesn’t mean they’re perfect and true to that a hundred percent of the time, but because they know who they are as a leader, and they’re always making decisions in support of that. They have opportunity. Like we talked about to be intentional to self-critique, but to always get better because they’re staying true to who they are.

Mike Klinzing: [00:32:38] And I think that also goes to what you touch on in chapter two, which is that there is no one perfect leadership style. There is no one way to do coaching correctly. You can go and watch successful coaches at any level of the game. We’re talking AAU basketball, we’re talking high school, basketball, college basketball, pro [00:33:00] basketball.

There are coaches that do it differently and yet are successful. And I think that’s something that, as you’ve said, is really important to keep in mind that when you are true to yourself, Your style is not going to look exactly like the coach down the road, the coach on TV, it’s going to be a style that’s unique to your own.

And so you want to make sure that you understand that you can have a style that is all your own and can still be successful. I think when I was thinking about this particular topic, I think about that in terms of when you’re an assistant coach working for a head coach and your personal leadership style as an assistant coach, maybe different from your head coaches and trying to figure out and navigate what that looks like in the relationship.

So when you think about some of the coaches that you’ve worked [00:34:00] for, and you think about their leadership style compared to your own, how did they. Influence you in the way they led. And then conversely, how did you think about trying to maybe take some of the things that they did, that you felt fit, what you did or fit what you were like, and then maybe some things that they did that didn’t fit with your leadership style that you eliminate.

It’s just talk about how you looked at the relationship with your head coaches over the course of your coaching.

Matthew Raidbard: [00:34:30] That was definitely something that was, that was always evolving for me. So early in my career, I thought, well, my leadership needs to align with what my coaches is. Right. That’s how I support my coach is I do the things that they do.

And I kind of quickly realized that, no, that’s, that’s not how this works. I need to be myself. But you know, that doesn’t mean that my leadership behaviors should be opposite bears or I can’t have some of the leadership [00:35:00] behaviors. I just have to figure it out for myself. You know, one thing when I, when I was at Chicago state and I worked for, for Tracy deli there.

Our personalities are polar opposites. I am, like I said, I’m a networker. I’m much more introverted. You know, I I’m, I’m somebody who doesn’t say a lot at practice, but when I do, I want it to have an impact coaches totally different. I mean, coach at the final four, we can’t even walk down the hall because everybody has come up.

The coach wanting to talk to him. He is the, the, the bright spot in the room. He could talk to anybody he’s extroverted. He talks to the players totally different than I do. We’re, we’re like polar opposites in every way. And when I got to Chicago state and I kind of realized this because I didn’t know him prior to getting to Chicago with.

I thought, well, I need to change. I gotta be more like coach, if I’m going to be on his staff. You know, I gotta try to be more outgoing. I’ve got to try to be communicate with the players [00:36:00] more frequently. I got to do all these different things so that I could be more like coach. And what I realized through that first year and into the second year was it’s actually a positive thing for me, that coach and I are so different because we could be compliments to each other.

He could learn things from my leadership and I could learn things from his leadership. And one of the big things that I, I learned from coach, and it was something that I hadn’t really, really understood the importance of before was loyalty, loyalty to your fellow coaches on the staff, loyalty to the players, we’ll teach to the program. You know you know, I always used to watch coach that first year. He used to take so much money out of his own pocket to pay for these extra things for the players. I used to think to myself do the players really need it. Like coach you’re taking you’re taking this money out of your pocket.

Like, and, but that was his way of being loyal to the [00:37:00] players and investing back into the program. And he always used to say that if we’re not loyal to each other, if we’re not loyal to ourselves, if we’re not willing to invest in ourselves in each other, how can we expect anybody outside of, of this team to, and I realized from, from that leadership, that that was something I, I wanted to add to my own leadership practice.

That was an amazing trait and leadership behavior that I wanted to add. Right. So it wasn’t about. Coach and minds, personalities are totally different. That’s fine. That doesn’t matter. We could still learn tons for each, from each other and there’s things that he does in his leadership practice that I could add to my own.

So it’s about finding that balance, making sure you’re still supporting your coach, but doing it in the way that like we talked about is true to you. That I’m not all of a sudden changing my personality and, and being disingenuous about who I am, because I think that’s what somebody else wants me to do, or I think that’ll help me better fit in on, on the staff and the team.

Mike Klinzing: [00:37:59] That makes [00:38:00] a lot of sense to me when I think about just how the coaching profession works in general. When you think about coaches, borrowing, stealing, whatever you want to call it, whether it’s X’s and O’s whether it’s things that coaches do to build team comradery, whether it’s leadership, I think coaches the best ones borrow steal.

Use things that they observed from other coaches and they make it their own in some way. I think that’s what you’re describing. There is no, you’re not going to turn into the exact same personality, the exact same leadership style as the head coach that you worked for. But even if you have completely different styles of leadership, you can learn from them.

And hopefully if they have that growth mindset, they can also learn from you. And as you’re going about, and you’re growing, you’re working as a leader and you’re coaching. One of the things that you talked about a lot in your book is the [00:39:00] idea that what a coach thinks they may be doing as a leader may not actually mesh.

What they are in fact doing. So in other words, in their mind, there may be a disconnect between here’s the type of coach and here’s the type of leader I think I’m being, or that I’m trying to be versus. Here’s what I’m actually doing. And there’s this gap in between. Talk a little bit about why you think that gap exists and what we can do to close that gap so that coaches can, again, going back to that word intentional.

So coaches can be completely intentional about the type of leader they want to be. If I want to be a transformational coach, how do I make sure that I’m doing that in your mind? Matthew?

Matthew Raidbard: [00:39:43] Yeah, the my research. You know, working with college basketball coaches it, it found that there is this leadership gap and the most successful coaches have the smallest leadership gap all the way down to coaches who are [00:40:00] not as successful or, or young coaches who are just breaking into the profession.

Their leadership gap is a lot bigger. And I attribute that to a couple of things. One is not having enough opportunities for leadership training development and not having enough resources to help coaches develop their leadership practice. You know, it’s oftentimes it’s, it’s kind of often said that coaches are CEOs of their programs.

We talked about earlier. Coaches have to wear all of these different hats. They’ve got to take on all these leadership responsibilities outside of traditional coaching responsibilities. Well, that takes a lot of leadership training and a lot of leadership knowledge to Excel in that role. And you know, when I, when I reflect on and talk to my friends who are in business and other professions, I mean my friends who, who are in business, for example, they get more leadership training in a year than I’ve gotten in my 15 year career.

And I’m looking for it. There’s just not enough coach [00:41:00] specific leadership training out there to really help teach coaches. One foundational leadership knowledge so that they know about different leadership styles and then provide them with the tools to go out and practice those leadership styles. And oftentimes that’s where the disconnect comes.

So in recent years there has been more of an emphasis on leadership in coaching. So I think we’re seeing more and more coaches gaining some of that foundational leadership knowledge there they’re majoring. Like I did it. You’re getting one example, a story I tell in the book, because in the book, in order to teach coaches, these good coaches, these tools, I use successes and failures from my own coaching career to kind of illustrate how the, how the leadership behaviors work or how you can go wrong.

And you know, I tell a story about how I really was interested in kind of, I was learning about transformational leadership and transactional leadership and in [00:42:00] transactional leadership it focuses on. You know, punishments to curb negative behaviors, rewards to incentivize the right behaviors.

And so I thought to myself, this is right at the beginning of my coaching career. This is like, we haven’t even started a practice yet. I’m like a month into class, but I’m, I’m just really enjoying what I’m learning. And I want to put it into practice and you know, head coach put myself and another assistant in charge of, of the, of the team.

He went recruiting and we had a situation where we were having an open gym and three, our three captains showed up late and immediately Talk talked with them and told them that because they relate they had to run. So in my mind, I’m providing, running as a punishment to curb the negative behavior of being late.

The problem was, was that I never set a standard or expectation that they had to be there at a certain [00:43:00] time or that if they weren’t, this was going to happen, that they’d have to run. And I missed half of what I th so the guys are out there running because they’re, they’re just trying, they’re just great kids, but they don’t even understand what they’ve done because they thought, well, it’s open gym.

We’re going to come when we come. And you know, Standing there like a pit bull with a stopwatch saying, oh, you’re, you’re a late. So now there needs to be some sort of punishment to curve this. And I, I didn’t set any sort of expectation. I didn’t create a standard. And so they didn’t understand why they were being punished.

Therefore they didn’t know what they did wrong and they didn’t know how they could correct it for next time. And so I had failed as a leader because I didn’t have all the tools and knowledge to be able to practice that leadership style in the way that I wanted to. So it would have the effect that I wanted it to have.

And to me, that kind of sums up a lot of what’s happening to coaches is, [00:44:00] you know, Tran, they want to be transformative. They want to be servant leaders, but, and they’ve got some knowledge, but it takes a lot of tools and understanding and training to take that knowledge and put it into practice with your team in order to get the desired outcomes that you want.

Mike Klinzing: [00:44:19] I think there’s still a lot of challenges for coaches when it comes to that difference between transactional and transformational, especially anyone who’s my age or certainly older than me. So I’m 51, but we grew up for the most part with transactional coaches, right? I mean, you grow up with the idea that if you do something good, maybe you get rewarded.

If you do something bad, you’re going to run or you’re going to have some type of external punishment. And the relationship piece of building that with players, that is such a huge part of becoming a transformational coach. Wasn’t always. [00:45:00] As important as it is today. And I think the athletes of the past, it was just a different era.

They didn’t, I don’t know if want need no, that it was something that they wanted, whereas today’s athlete completely different. If you tried to coach a kid today, the way that I was coached in 1989 or 1990, the reaction and how things would go would be far, far different. If you go back and you read season on the brink with Bobby Knight, and you think about if those things were going on in the year 2021, Bob Knight would have a job for like 15 seconds.

And yet he’s obviously from a wins and losses standpoint and with a lot of players that he did build relationships with a very successful coach. But we think about the way things are today, this is completely completely different. And to your point, I think a lot of coaches are still, there’s [00:46:00] still that lingering effect of what coaching used to be like and the, my way or the highway coach, the bully pulpit coach versus the coach is going to build that relationship.

Who’s going to be transformation. Who’s going to affect their players, not only on the court, but also off the court. And I think that’s something that coaches in the past, they just didn’t have to concern themselves with in the same way. And you talk about in your book that coaches have had to transcend beyond the role of just being a coach, meaning a coach on the floor, coaching basketball.

There’s so many more things that coaches have to do today. So can you share a few of those things that. Coaches have maybe taken over that they wouldn’t have had to do in the past that helped them to build better relationships, but also make leadership more of a challenge.

Matthew Raidbard: [00:46:53] So for me being somebody who feels it’s really [00:47:00] important and my role to develop personal relationships, my players what comes with that is a lot of responsibility, a lot of leadership responsibility, because now I’m, I’m going to be taking on the role of mentor advisor confidant could be father figure you know, just some different roles that I took on in my career.

As I built relationships with my players. And from an emotional standpoint, I felt I could take those things on because I cared about them and, and we had a relationship built on trust and respect, but. From a leadership perspective, I needed to learn several key leadership behaviors over time to be able to really fulfill the needs of what my players are.

So for example, one, one leadership behavior that I really had to add to my leadership practice and make sure that I, I was practicing was empathy. [00:48:00] So a lot of early in my career, it was a lot of, let’s tough it out, but you know, let’s keep going. Don’t let things off the court affect you on the basketball court.

I’m tuning it out. YouTube. That’s not fair and that’s not, that’s not always right. You know, people are going through things. They should be able to, people should be able to have a bad day and it could be okay that they’re having a bad day. When they show up to practice, it might take them a little while to get into practice.

That’s okay. You can always leave those things in a locker room. Right? So there’s some heavy things that people are dealing with and need to be able to have empathy and understanding to read my player’s body language, but also ask them and have them trust me and say, are you okay? What’s going on?

Do you need a minute? Do you want to talk about. And if they say no, coach didn’t do well on a test. I’m going to shake it off. No big deal. Okay. But if they say coach, I’m going through some things right now, I need some time people need to say, okay, [00:49:00] that’s more important. I’m here for you.

We can talk about it when you’re ready. And I really needed to understand the importance of empathy. You know, another one that I I’ve just, I feel like I’m always working on as a leader is listening. And I throughout my career, I’ve mistaken listening for hearing. So the players would be telling me something and I be hearing them, but I wouldn’t be actively engaged in listening to them.

I’d be thinking of my response while they were talking. I didn’t want to hear it. No excuses we’re, we’re going to get through this. Right. I don’t want to hear it from you. I just want to tell you what I have to say. I don’t want to listen to what you have to say and you can’t build relationships.

Yeah, that’s a one-way relationship with players. Don’t be like, you’re listening to them. They’re not going to trust you. They’re not going to feel like you support them. And that’s going to have an effect on your relationship with them in your ability to coach them. So those are two that were, were hugely [00:50:00] key for me.

And there are two that I just in my leadership practice today, I always thinking about, and I’m always working on,

Mike Klinzing: [00:50:09] I love both of those because a lot of what I look at when I think about what makes a successful coach is I don’t always look at it honestly from myself as a coach. I think back to my time as a player.

And I think about what my coaches were like, and I think about what I might’ve wanted them to be like. And when I hear you talking about empathy and getting to. Understand what was going on in a player’s life. I remember very, very, very, very few of those conversations that I ever had with any coach I ever played for.

I’m sure I can count them on one hand. It just wasn’t done. And then on the listening side of it, [00:51:00] now we talked to so many coaches who talk about having conversations with players about the culture, about the X’s and O’s about their life, about what’s going on, about what are we going to do in the locker room and just, it’s a much more collaborative process today between players and coaches than it was in the past.

And I think it just sets people up much better for success. When you have a collaboration where you have both sides that care about one another versus. As you said, I may be a coach standing over here and my players might be talking and I hear their voices, but I’m not really listening and taking into account what they’re saying.

Or maybe the players telling me about something that went on in their personal life. And I’m just sitting there, I hear them, but I’m not really processing what that means and how that’s impacting, how the players performing in practice or how they’re performing a game or just their general mood and disposition.

[00:52:00] And it only makes sense when you think about it, intuitively that if I get in tune with those things with my players, I’m going to have a much better opportunity to reach them and get the best out of them. Not only on the court, but also. Off the court and in their life, which goes back to what you talked about as being your mission and your why behind coaching is you want to have that kind of impact on your players, using the game of basketball that you love.

And that’s really what leadership is all about. And you talk as you come towards the end of the book, you talk about having coaches, how they should develop their own definition of success. So maybe you could share your definition of success as a basketball coach, and then maybe give a point or two for coaches who want to develop their own definition, how they could go about doing.

Matthew Raidbard: [00:52:56] So when looking at success I, I think it’s, it’s [00:53:00] natural for coaches to look at wins and losses. I looked at wins and losses. I would never tell coaches that they should not incorporate wins and losses into their definition of success. Right. You know, you always want to have goals whether it’s to improve year to year or in, in particular years the, the success rate that you have.

So I, I, I think having wins and losses incorporated or championships, or, or all of those kinds of metrics are important for your definition of success, because it’s a part of the profession, but I think that that’s one element of it and, and that’s, that could be measurable did we, we said, we’re going to win 20 games.

We won 18. We didn’t meet our measure of success, but. I think there need to be other goals measurable, but largely unmeasurable that you have for your team that you just know as a leader. Okay. We’re meeting those or we’re [00:54:00] not meeting them. And, and one thing is continuous improvement. Do you feel like your team is continually improving?

You know, that was one of our big goals. When I was at Chicago state they might’ve picked us seventh and eighth teams. Maybe we didn’t say, well, our goal is to win X number of games. Our goal was, we want to get better every day. We want to be constantly improving. We’re using the eye tests. We’re, we’re, we’re reading our players, we’re reading our team and we’re kind of measuring, are we getting better?

Are we getting better? You know, that was one thing that we talked about a lot that was important to us in our definition of success. You know, another huge part of it to me is, and this is for coaches at any level. Is, are your kids having a great experience? You know, for youth sport coaches, are your kids having fun?

Are they learning a skill or two? Do they, are they having a positive experience with the game that [00:55:00] like me when I was younger and had really great coaches develops a love of the sport to where you stick with it high school coaches, college coaches are you giving your kids a great experience?

You know, winning certainly is an aspect of that. It helps the experience positive for the experience winning versus losing. But do your players feel, are you building strong relationships with your players? Are you getting really good feedback for them? Do you feel like they trust you? Are they demonstrating that they trust you and there’s mutual respect there?

You know, are you building something where your players are coming back? You know, that, that was a big measure of, for me was after guys graduated. Did they keep in touch? Did they come back? Did they support us? You know, did we do a good job, giving them a great experience to tie them to the program and to us?

And that’s one of my greatest joys once guys leave is keeping in touch, seeing their success, [00:56:00] talking with my former players catching up seeing what they’re doing and that was all cultivated in the emphasis that we put on making sure guys had great experiences.

And that doesn’t mean that we were giving them everything that they wanted, or we were sheltering them. That that’s, that came also from a lot of hard talks, a lot of accountability, a lot of, a lot of standards and expectations, but those were so important in the development and the learning and the growth that we wanted to achieve for our athletes.

And so I kind of. Look at those definitions of success. Are we, am I doing those things as a coach? Are we doing those things as a staff, in a program? And then for me at the time, and now I can be able to look at it and say, did we win as many games as I wanted? No. Or championships that we have as much success as I would have loved in my coaching career?

No, but did you know, based on the relationships I have with my [00:57:00] players now, based on how the men that so many of them have become, which has just been tremendous to watch and follow and just be a small part of, do I feel like a success? Have I made an impact? You know, being able to look back and say yes is honestly the most fulfilling thing for my coaching career.

Mike Klinzing: [00:57:19] That’s a great answer. And I love the idea, the thought that when players come back and they want to be a part of it, that that sends a clear message that. You’ve done something. Right. And I think it’s so true when you look at whether it’s a high school program or a college program, and you look at those programs that are successful, they’re successful because the players that came before want to see the current players continue the tradition and continue the success that they had while they were there.

They feel a connection to the school, to the coaches and really that’s all, that’s what it’s all about. [00:58:00] And when you talked about getting those phone calls or getting those messages or getting a visit from a former player, I always say there’s nothing better than picking up that phone and having somebody say, Hey, coach, and it could be somebody that’s funny.

I’m sure you can relate to this. When I, I recently reconnected with three of my college coaches who I hadn’t seen really or spoken to probably for 25 years. And I recently had dinner with one of my assistant coaches. And I’m 51 years old and he’s 77 and I still call him coach. And even though there’s some things that I wish were different about the relationship and a lot of the things that we talked about tonight are things that I wished that my coaching staff, particularly in college had done more of, but you go through so many things with them and then the opportunity to reconnect and talk and hear the stories.

And part of me wishes, I’m like, [00:59:00] well, I wish we would’ve, we would’ve been able to open up like this back when I was back when I was a 20 year old junior in college, as opposed to a 51 year old man, but nonetheless, to be able to connect like that and to be able to have those kinds of conversations, whether no matter which direction you’re going, whether it’s from my perspective that I just had that dinner where I was the player talking to my coach, or when I get calls from my former players, there’s nothing.

That means more than that. I think that really is the true definition of coaching success and being a great leader as a coach. Before we wrap up Matthew, I want to give you one more opportunity to share where people can find the book, how they can connect with you, whether that’s on social media website, whatever you want to share so that people can reach out to you.

Find out more about lead like a pro. And hopefully we can get a few people out there. It’s going to be a great resource for coaches. If you want to develop and grow as a coach, I highly highly recommend [01:00:00] lead like a pro. So Matthew share how people can reach out to you, how they can find out more about the book, how they can get a, get a copy, and then I’ll jump back in and wrap things up.

Matthew Raidbard: [01:00:09] Yeah, absolutely. Thank you so much. For having me on guys, this was awesome. Lead like a pro you know, Amazon Barnes and noble, wherever you get books, it’s everywhere. It ships out a media. So you can get it pretty much the next day. So but yeah, I appreciate the kind words about the book. You know, people have questions about the book they want to reach out.

You know, I’m on LinkedIn, that’s my that’s my social media choice. So I’m, I’m pretty active there. People could always reach out and they’ve got a question they want to have a talk about leadership you know, always, always willing to take the time and love those conversations. And then anybody could also check me out.

My last name, I have just a lot of different stuff with leadership. I’m going to be doing a leadership series and provide leadership training and just, just trying [01:01:00] to give as coaches as many resources for you know, leadership developments I can to you know, hopefully just help this next crop of coaches and, and all of our current coaches who are in it right now, just be the best leaders that they can be.

Mike Klinzing: [01:01:14] Appreciate your passion for the coaching profession. Congratulations on the book lead like a pro any coach who goes out there and picks up a copy is going to be happy that they did. It’s going to help you to grow and improve as a coach, as a leader. Matthew cannot thank you enough for taking the time out of your schedule to jump on with us tonight and to everyone out there.

Thanks for listening. And we will catch you on our next episode. Thanks.