EPISODE 12: leadership and virtue

Our conversation with Austin McBeth is part of a series of interviews that took place at the end of 2020 and early 2021.  Amid the uncertainty of an international pandemic and the isolation of university and athletic department lockdowns, we spoke with leaders across the sporting world about leading in times of instability, insecurity, division, and drift.  

To steal a phrase, we greet Austin at the beginning of a great career.  A two-sport athlete at Iowa State University, Austin found his passion for coaching while pulling double-duty as a player and unofficial graduate coaching assistant under legendary men’s basketball coach, Fred Hoiberg—keeping a rigorous academic and training schedule during the day, and pulling tape and completing player analyses in the evenings.  Having found his calling, he transitioned directly from college into the coaching ranks, working stints as an assistant at Montreat and Illinois-Springfield before joining Truman State as an assistant Men’s Basketball coach and writing two (!) books on leadership and coaching, The Sweet Sixteen: A Coach’s Guide to Leadership and The Gap Theory. In the time since our interview, Austin became the Head Men’s Basketball Coach at Friends University—a prodigious climb for a young coach, and no doubt a sign of things to come.

We spoke to Austin about his path as an athlete and coach, and the unique role that love, faith, and authenticity have played in his motivational strategies and relationships with his athletes.  We think you’re going to like this one.

More on Austin and his writing can be found here.

“I think being vulnerable enough to say, ‘listen, I’m a mess, I’m going to screw up, but I’m going to be transparent about it,” sets a great example, because then, our players don’t have to strive to be perfect.  As coaches, we [often] say, ‘you need to be perfect.  You need to have a perfect rep, a perfect game, be perfect from the free-throw line.’  That’s not attainable.  And so we can say, ‘I want you to give your best effort, to trust the system, and we’ll deal with the results.’  How much freedom is there in knowing, ‘I don’t have to be perfect; I just have to give everything I have?'”

– Austin McBeth

Episode Highlights:

– Leadership as an athlete, leadership as a coach

– Leading through adversity and transition

– Leadership and faith

– Leadership and love

– Developing genuine connections with athletes

– Coaching life skills

– Coaching, love, and legacy

– Broken people leading broken people

– Humility and leadership

– Redefining perfection

– Modeling and leadership

– How players reflect their leaders

– Coaching and authentic relationships