Culture Eats Strategy for Lunch – Part 1: Team First

Casting the vision for what the team is going to accomplish and getting buy-in is critical and what will drive your goals and practices. And the first step in building a winning culture is to create a team first mentality. Here are some best practices to get this done:

  • Ken Stuursma tells his kids every practice: They have to come to practice for somebody else. He states that selfish attitudes are garbage and selfish behavior is the first and most important thing to eliminate.
  • John Doss’ teams have helmet stickers with 3 chain links. In their pre-game talk they link arms and talk about how strong a chain is and how they are there to play for the person on their right and left.
    As a coach – make sure you ALWAYS do what’s best for the players, not what’s best for your win/loss record. Also, as a coach – do you say ‘My team’ or ‘Our team’?
  • Some coaches have only one rule: ‘Don’t let your teammates down.’ This one seems particularly pertinent with regards to Draymond Green’s behavior in the NBA playoffs.
  • Jon Gordon in his book The Energy Bus talks about having to eliminate ‘energy vampires.’ Lee Miller uses the analogy of every player and coach being either a proton or an electron – they are either bringing positive energy or negative energy.
  • Colby Patnode’s teams have 3 rules:
    – Protect the team
    – Protect the brand/game
    – Do your best

One of the hardest things to do as a leader is to get individuals to buy-in to doing something that involves the team’s needs being greater than the individuals. But when you do get this buy-in, that’s when something magical and transformative happens.

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