“Only when individuals can trust the culture or organization will they take personal risks in order to advance that culture or organization as a whole.”

Key Takeaways:
  • Leaders vs Leading
  • People & Purpose
  • Tipping Point

It is been my experience that leadership impacts the win-loss record of a given season, in addition to a program’s attempt to establish sustainable success. My guess is most coaches do no start equipped with leadership training beyond a hodgepodge of discussions during classes and observations as an athlete/coach. I, myself am not a professional when it comes to developing future leaders. Yet, it is a job-related responsibility in my profession that – as mentioned before – plays a significant role in our efforts to be a competitive basketball program. So, how do we develop leadership?

“Leading is not the same as being the leader. Being the leader means you hold the highest rank, either by earning it, good fortune or navigating internal politics. Leading, however, means that others willingly follow you – not because they have to, not because they are paid to, but because they want to.”

For context (in the past):

  • Our program has captains voted each season
  • Captains are then delegated additional responsibilities to lead certain activities & communication
  • Weekly discussions related to leadership, locker-room, practice, and performance

This was a loaded chapter revolving around trust, culture, and leadership – all buzzwords that coaches use early and often to foster a foundation for a positive competitive environment. Two things that come across as most important while reading were the people and purpose.

People & Purpose

“What all great leaders have in common is the ability to find good fits join their organization – those who believe what they believe.”

The inherent challenge with basketball programs versus business is the ability to handpick the team to embark upon any journey to being successful, whether it is for-profit or trophies. Unless you are competing at the highest level most coaches are having to make decisions based on limited information to select adolescent athletes based on skill-set, work ethic, or personality traits. The author quotes Herb Kelleher famously saying, “You don’t hire for skills, you hire for attitude. You can always teach skills.” My guess is Herb never had to deal with parents after losing by 40 points because he selected an entire team with a good attitude.

“Great organizations become great because the people inside the organization feel protected. The strong sense of culture creates a sense of belonging and acts like a net.”

Jokes aside, the three aforementioned attributes influence a coach’s decision to put together a team. And a positive attitude contributes to a program taking steps in the right direction. However, during a season, an individual’s motivation can shift. It is then where the leadership of a team has to be strong enough to overcome individual incentives for recognition or accomplishment for the sake of a collective objective. The book uses an example of stonemasons building a cathedral. The first stonemason describes the work as monotonous and doubts the project will ever be completed during his lifetime. While the second stonemason understands the work can be repetitive but is reminded daily that it is all towards an effort of building a beautiful cathedral. Our leadership has to be strong enough to remind everyone of their value that is working together to build a cathedral.

Tipping Point

“When you start with WHY, those who believe what you believe are drawn to you for very personal reasons. It is those who share your values and beliefs, not the quality of your products, that will cause the system to tip. Your role in the process is to be crystal clear about what purpose, cause or belief you exist to champion, and to show how your products and services help advance that cause.”


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