Signs of problems and signs of hope (in teams)

I have worked with players and coaches from many teams who have undergone a regime change while working with them. As a result, I have been fortunate enough to gain insight into many of the dynamics that are affected when this happens. Many, but not all, of those I have been involved with occurred due to disappointing past results.

These are some of the things I look for when I’m involved with players, coaches or teams undergoing a change in leadership:

1) Buy. Do players and staff believe in and trust what the new manager is selling? Without the buy-in, all the other things on my list, with one exception, would not happen.

2) Walking Your Talk *. Do the coaches and support materials deliver the ideals they preach? Every team I work with has catchy motivational sayings and quotes over the walls of their facilities, but if they are not living examples of these things, they lose their team in a hurry.

3) Culture **. This is the backbone of any organization. In short, a winning culture is characterized by shared values, goals and practices in the team and is supported by discipline (often social ***) when members do not live up to their obligations to the team.

4) Respect. To earn this, see Walking Your Talk above. Coaches and staff must earn the player’s respect as well as give the players the respect they deserve.

5) Camaraderie. This is the property that can be achieved without buy-in, and also the one that often gives you the most bang for your buck. I have been involved in two teams that were very successful before their regime change, which hired poor leaders who the players liked but were unable to earn their respect. In either case, you could see cracks in the foundation within months, but because of each other’s love and common goals that players had from the previous regime, they continued to reach a high level for a few years (One even won a national championship) before crumbling.

Although I am talking about athletic teams here, these lessons apply to companies as well.

Note, I did not mention coaching because at the levels I work with it is rare to find a coach who does not have technical knowledge and it is the lack of the above that leads to their downfall more often than not.

Another thing I didn’t mention was the number of good players. Not because it is not important to have more good players, but rather because adding more good players, in the absence of the above things, is more than likely to waste their abilities.

You are more likely to see a quick turnaround on a team with a new positive attitude than a team that adds more good players. I see so many teams with good players and losing records that I see that have average players having winning records. The difference is attitude and the traits I mentioned above, or the lack of those traits. Therefore, it is not uncommon to see a football team going 4-8 a year, going 8-4 or better the following year with most of the same players.

“It’s not the beauty of a building that you have to look at; it’s the construction of the foundation that will be the test of time.” – David Allan Coe