Wimbledon is over for another year and for only the second time in over 70 years, the Centre Court crowd crowned and applauded a British champion; Andy Murray winning his second Wimbledon title watched studiously by his ‘super coach’ and past multiple Grand Slam winner (but never a Wimbledon champion), Ivan Lendl. In an article written at the start of Wimbledon I discussed the role of a ‘super coach’ in the world of tennis; a term which refers to highly successful ex-players with an array of past grand slams.
Andy Murray may have beaten Milos Raonic majestically in a 6-4 7-6 7-6 straight sets win yet there was a subplot based on the battle of the two ‘super coaches’ involved in the final, Ivan Lendl and John McEnroe; both as different in their playing style years ago as in their coaching style today. Previously I contrasted McEnroe’s passionate personality and expressive body language which reveals he lives every shot on the court, in contrast to the calm aura of Lendl’s stoic and impassioned presence.
Personality wise and on-court at least it would appear Murray has more in common with McEnroe and conversely Raonic’s calm temperament appears much more aligned to Lendl’s quiet presence. And therein lies a powerful insight that more of the same personality wise, whether in a coaching relationship or a team, is not always the right approach. Both players are likely to have chosen their coach for the reason of adding something different into the personality mix of their respective coaching teams.
Too often people decisions, whether in selecting a coach or recruiting or promoting a manager, are driven by the mini-me syndrome, often based on an unconscious bias, where executives and others in the recruitment process choose employees and successors similar to themselves. To reduce the negative impact of this social phenomena such selection decisions can be assisted by increasing bias awareness and introducing rigorous assessment methods to improve the quality of the final selection decision.
So Wimbledon is over for another year, Andy Murray will feel happy in his Wimbledon performances and coach selection. The rise of the super coach continues as others try to capture and recreate the alchemy of the Lendl-Murray coach/ coachee combination. Murray is clear that Lendl often challenges his thinking and views on tactics and to have such a relationship requires trust in both parts. Food for thought for those considering appointing an executive coach.
The author of this article, Dr. Paul Turner, holds a Ph.D. in organisational coaching. He is an associate consultant and performance coach with Collingwood Consulting.