Culture. Ah, the buzz word for every high school, college, and professional team right now. Most people can recognize great cultures when they see them: the San Antonio Spurs, the Seattle Seahawks, the Michigan State Spartans.
One of the scariest things about culture is the fact that one exists whether you intend for it to or not. So, if you are not being intentional about the development, and advancement, of your culture; then the culture of your will reflect that.
There is always a culture to a team or program.
Angela Duckworth, notable grit and culture expert, recently had this to say in a Seattle Times article by Jayson Jenks:
“My sense is that great coaches are able to create, to forge, a team or identity that says, ‘This is the kind of person we want. This is what it means to be on this team.’ “
There are four key pieces to culture: a vision for the program, the core values of the program, the standards in the program, and accountability within the program. Each is vital to a program reaching its full potential and must be consistently emphasized by the leader. If the leader isn’t capable or willing to sell the vision, to filter through the core values, and to uphold the standards set in the program with relentless accountability; no program will reach its potential. BUT … if the leader shares the vision with passion, lives by the core values, and refuses to waiver from the standards of the program; there is no limit to the impact a program can have on team members, fans, and the community.
We’ll focus on vision first. The vision should show team members what can be; it should stretch comfort zones and stir passion within the team. As Henry Ford said, “If I would have asked people what they wanted, they would’ve said faster horses.” Those following don’t know. The leader of the team or program must set the vision.
The vision must also clarify direction and purpose while setting a standard of excellence. Vision statements by big corporations often become too vague. And, as a result, are completely useless. Effective vision statements are easily understood by team members and provide a guide to where they are supposed to be going. If the program has no vision, or if no one in the program knows what that vision is, then team members have no idea of what they are working for or where they are trying to go. Great leaders will paint a picture that team members can see. It changes the daily work – making it meaningful, purposeful because the work is leading to something better than what currently exists.
Bricks, Walls, or Cathedrals?
A man came upon a construction site where three people were working. He asked the first, “What are you doing?” and the man replied: “I am laying bricks.” He asked the second, “What are you doing?” and the man replied: “I am building a wall.” As he approached the third, he heard him humming a tune as he worked, and asked, “What are you doing?” The man stood, looked up at the sky, and smiled, “I am building a cathedral!” –unknown
All three men were doing the same thing, but the vision of what the ultimate goal looked like completely changes the attitude, drive, and quality of the work being done – all because it is now purposeful work in line with an appealing vision.
Here are some examples of simple, clear, and inspiring vision statements:
USA Swimming To inspire and enable our members to achieve excellence in the sport of swimming and in life.
Ohio State Athletics We foster a culture that provides the opportunity to develop our student-athletes through success in academics and competition to achieve excellence in life.
George Fox University To be “the team to beat” in NCAA DIII sports with the most formative athletic experience in the country.
Under Armor To empower athletes everywhere.
Centerville Basketball Hunt – better our best every day.
In order for a leader to create the team or program that others dream about; that can change the lives of team members; the leader must craft a vision that presses the limits of what seems possible. If you haven’t taken the time to create a vision for your team or program, I urge you to do so. And, if you have a vision for your program, examine it regularly to be sure that you are pursuing it daily.
Up next: Determining the core values for your team and using them as the decision-making filter for everything in your program!