Professional Development: Khadija J. Head
When Coach Head started her coaching career in 2005, she began her own website, www.headcoachhead.com, which has evolved as she’s matured and grown as a coach. Her mission is to help college coaches take their careers off of autopilot and gain control. Early in her career, she felt defined by the title of “coach,” and thought it was the entire makeup of her life. She now asserts, “coaching is just a profession, and I am so much more and bigger than this title.” In addition to currently serving as an assistant coach at Kennesaw State, she dedicates time to not only personal growth, but helping other coaches grow as well.
“We fall asleep and think that our coaching self and future self cannot co-exists in the same space.” – Khadija J. Head
At one point in her coaching career, Coach Head found herself on autopilot and took a three-year hiatus away from the college game to gain clarity. Throughout these three years she consumed endless amounts of content, journaled, read, blogged, listened to podcasts consistently, and found knowledge in everything that she could. She credits How Starbucks Saved My Life as the most influential book she read during that time and especially recommends it to those who are trying to find their footing in the coaching world or wondering if they should stay in it. Be sure to check the links at the bottom of this interview for bonus resources, as recommended by Coach Head!
Make the Time and Jot it Down!
When Coach Head first got into the coaching world, she thought professional development just “happened” at the WBCA national convention when everyone was in that space of thinking. She has since come to realize and appreciate that professional development can happen anywhere and on any budget. Whether you have a couple thousand dollars to attend symposiums and conferences, or five bucks to buy another coach in the department coffee to chat over, there are countless opportunities to learn and grown.
Don Mayer would always say that the shortest pencil is longer than the longest memory. A self proclaimed hoarder of journals, Coach Head is sure to have one in her bag, on her bedside table, or in her office. Bottom line: she makes sure she has a journal accessible when she wants it. In an effort to prevent great advice from being lost or forgotten, she’s constantly writing it down. Even on the baseline while watching a July evaluation period game, she’ll pick the brain of the coaches around her and jot a few nuggets down.
For her, the best type of professional development happens in that intimate, organic, setting over a cup of coffee. Both parties are typically more likely to give information freely in this trusting environment. Another moment that has stood out in her memory is the 2013 NCAA Women’s Coaches Academy she attended. It wasn’t just isolated to women’s basketball coaches, but included coaches from all sports and divisions. “There was so much knowledge, so many unique perspectives. Before this I was limited to the advice of other basketball coaches and could now understand the perspectives of others. Most of all, I learned the perception that other coaches have of women’s basketball coaches. It helped me improve my relationships, understanding how others view us as ‘privileged’ because of our budgets. There is such an importance to interacting with coaches across sports to help us eliminate our silos.”
Not too long ago we spotted a tweet from Coach Head with a picture of a couple boxes of donuts. The tweet read: “Special delivery from me to a surprise company for their excellent customer service yesterday.”
The world needs more people who go out of their way to show gratitude and appreciation like this. When asked what or who has influenced her intentional prioritizing of showing gratitude, she credits one of her mentors and current boss, Coach Agnus Berenato. “She is a great example of a true servant leader. Anytime she takes a trip, she always brings back treats for people associated with her program.” It could be a bag of chocolates, coffee, or something else, but Coach Berenato is one to give back to those around her. She often writes personal notes, thanking her staff for being on her team. For Coach Head, this style of leadership has greatly impacted the person she is today.
- Your most important asset is your name. When coaches introduce themselves, REPEAT their name back to them. Later, don’t just say, “Goodbye, coach.” Use their name!
- When you collect a business card, write something down on the back of it that is something personal about the conversation. Refer back to this when writing a handwritten note.
- “Know that while you may feel little, the coaching pie is big enough for all of us to have our own slice.”
- Always have a handful of questions relevant to a variety of positions in your back pocket for conferences. For example:
- To a first time head coach: What is something you wish you would’ve done as an assistant to help you become a head coach? What is something I can do for my head coach right now?
- To a peer: What is something you’ve done in your career that’s helped you to become a better mentor for players, your staff, etc.?
- Today you can be on a mountaintop and tomorrow in a deep valley. Don’t limit your knowledge library to those people above you; everyone has valuable insight.
Want More from Coach Head?
In all that Coach Head does, her main focus is to be a giver. “I believe you can get anything in life that you want if you help enough other people. The knowledge that we give to others, we never know how far it’s going to take them.” True to her word, Coach Head has provided readers with a variety of valuable resources!
First, be sure to download Coach Head’s most recent paid course, “Resume Writing Essentials for College Coaches,” which offers an in-depth workbook, geared specifically for college coaches to elevate them from lower case “coach” to upper case “COACH.”
**Additionally, readers of this post can enter the promo code “The Coaching Assist” at checkout to receive $10 off your purchase!**
Coach Head is also offering a complimentary E-Course entitled, “5 Days to a Stronger Professional Network” on her website! The goal of this course is to develop top tier connections and increase your coaching network in just five days.
Lastly, check out http://www.headcoachead.com/the-coaching-assist/ for more great learning resources, as recommended by Coach Head!
Follow Coach Head on Twitter @headcoachhead