I recently read that there is going to be a behind the scenes TV movie coming out about the classic 1990s show Saved By the Bell. Before the scandalous backstage drama unfolds, let’s not lose track of the real hero of the show, Mr. Belding.
If you somehow missed this gem, Saved by the Bell was the Saturday morning sitcom of six teenagers. It followed their wacky hijinks, on- and off-again relationships, and eventual graduation from high school. Through it all, these misguided youths were directed by Mr. Richard Belding, their dedicated principal.
When Mr. Belding wasn’t dolling out detentions, which was frequent and well-deserved, he was serving as a coach to the kids at Bayside High. Not a sports coach (although he did try this a few times), but as a guide to those under his tutelage. Like all leaders, he took responsibility for each person’s success. To provide the one-on-one support needed, Mr. Belding had a few sound coaching tips that can benefit all leaders.
Provide a productive work culture. People cannot give their best efforts if the workplace is not conducive to working. Mr. Belding knew everything happening in his school including the engagement of his students. You need to frequently check the pulse of those on your team. What are their challenges and concerns? Keep an open mind, listen to feedback, and make an effort to fix issues immediately.
Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey! What is going on here?
Treat each team member as an individual. While the collective group will accomplish the most, it is each member of the group who is doing the work. Mr. Belding interacted with the student body but personally knew each student. He connected to Lisa Turtle very differently from Screech and Jessie. Leaders must also forge individualized relationships with staff members. Only then can you make a meaningful connection that will develop their skills.
Provide meaningful feedback. A big part of helping people grow is through constructive input. Mr. Belding was a wealth of advice and life lessons, but don’t compare yourself too harshly to him…you don’t have his team of professional writers. Feedback is as simple as encouraging the progress they’ve made, dissected the challenges, and setting new goals. Be respectful, utilize candor, and be supportive.
When you signed on to be a leader, coaching was part of the deal. It’s how you grow a team of capable, empowered individuals. Sometimes you’ll inspire, others times you’ll be assigning them to the homecoming planning committee so as to avoid a punishment. Either way, you can make a difference.