So often I am approached with the question, “So you were a college coach… that must have been so exciting?” Or what was it like to coach in the NCAA Tournament against Coach K or Jay Wright? Sometimes the conversation develops to the point where I am asked, “What is the biggest challenge in coaching college basketball?” While the first few questions always bring back fond memories, the last one reminds me of the toughest challenge every season, developing true consistent leaders.
We always had bright young men who were excited to be attending a university and playing Division I college basketball. Each one was accustomed to being the best player their whole lives until they arrived to college and recognized that everyone else is just as good as they are, if not better. Adversity was not something they had to deal with very often. They were used to everything coming easy to them and they never had to work very hard for success. In fact, success usually came instantly. So logically, everyone from their high school or hometown labeled them the natural leader, the captain of the high school championship team.
Most people only get to see the glamour and not all the work that goes on behind the scenes. They only remember the championship games and cutting down the nets. Nets would never have been cut down if we didn’t have great leaders who led us through the challenging parts of the season. For example, how did each player handle the time our starting point guard was out for 9 games? How did they withstand that 3 game losing streak? When adversity hit our team, we would discover who are leaders were. They revealed themselves consistently in the good times and the bad. They didn’t choose to become leaders because they wanted to be popular. They chose to become leaders because the cause was worth it. The cause was greater than self- gratification and they sacrificed their own agenda, for the greater good of the team.
We live in a world where people are concerned with, “What’s in it for me?” Consistent leaders always have complete focus on the greater cause. They are then able to influence the rest of the team to do the same. All groups bear the same struggles and the business environment is no exception. Our greatest hurdle in running our business is getting complete buy in from our employees. In order for us to run the business at a championship level, we need to create a culture where everyone operates from a team perspective. That is what wins championships! That is what wins business!