From Ian Bell, working with Elite Coaching at the English Rugby Football Union

Coaching tips from the English Rugby Football Union. These are about sport but the principles may apply more generally.

1. Communicate clearly

Always keep your team fully informed of project goals, priorities and all important deadlines. Effective communication will be essential in both establishing your credibility and gaining the support of your players so make sure that you provide clear direction and always invite and welcome questions and feedback from others.

2. Set a good example

Demand from yourself the same level of professionalism, and dedication that you would expect from your players. If you expect the team to be up beat and friendly then make sure you are! If you expect written reports to be error free — then double check your own!

3. Invite and encourage feedback

Sometimes players are unwilling to speak up about certain issues unless prompted. Canvass opinion on issues such as support, training and resources and maintain an open door policy so that your team knows that you are willing to listen and help provide solutions to any problems.

4. Offer recognition

By publicly recognising the efforts and achievements of your team (admin and backroom staff as well as players) you not only build up their confidence but also encourage future contributions and effort. Praise does not always have to be formal — praising individuals can be part of your day to day communication with your team.

5. Be decisive

When you need to make decisions, stick to them. People do not feel comfortable with someone who constantly changes their mind. There are always plenty of examples of leaders losing the confidence of others by changing their minds. You only have to look at public opinion on government U-turns to see how easily confidence in a leader can be knocked or lost altogether - not easy damage to repair.

6. Accept that you still have a lot to learn

The coach that knows everything is the coach who will fail. The coaching journey is one of continuous improvement, you will never know enough. The great coaches accept this and never miss an opportunity to learn. Many people will have ample expertise in their chosen field but they may find that they lack self-confidence in their ability to lead. Be prepared to learn from others — including your players.

7. Help your players see the ‘big picture’

Take time out to explain to your players how their roles and responsibilities fit into the team’s larger goals and your overall objectives. This will help demonstrate that every task they complete on and off the field can have an impact on the team’s reputation, success and results. Don’t forget the backroom staff!

8. Create an environment of constant learning and development

(Include yourself in this process). Encourage your players to explore new methods for reaching their individual and the team’s goals. Allow them to make — and learn from mistakes and make a point of rewarding new and innovative ideas.

9. Provide professional guidance

A good coach — and leader - will also be a mentor, so make yourself available to new players and show interest in their career development. Don’t overlook the motivational power of positive reinforcement — your players will appreciate your commitment to their progress.

10. Be patient with yourself

Developing strong coaching skills takes time — especially as you adjust to and grow into your role. Seek guidance from colleagues, your boss and/or your professional network when you need it. By sharing best practices you will inevitably enhance your leadership abilities and take strides to becoming a world class coach.