"I took the lessons of winning, of total accountability, of willingness, of sacrifice, of hard work with me."
~ Lina Taylor
Growing up an athlete in a communist country was defined by two things: relentless (almost ruthless) pursuit of results at any cost and a constant (nearly dreadful) lack of resources, such as basic equipment (think - shoes without holes or balls that are not splitting at the seams), heat in the practice facilities during the winter months, even electricity (oh yes, lights going out in the middle of practice but having to finish with a workout anyway).
Here, in the United States, the problems facing youth administrators and coaches today can be quite debilitating as well - concussions, safety, lack of trainers, insufficient funding, high coach turnover, failing facilities, un-constructive parent involvement (to put it mildly).
Yet, the inspired human spirit can find a way to persevere regardless. But how? How does one maintain a higher vision and create a winning culture despite difficult circumstances?
Take a look at my sport story growing up as an athlete in a communist country which illustrates some of the principles that lead to creating a winning team culture.
Having competed at the junior, collegiate, professional and Olympic levels, allowed me to develop specific skills that transcended languages, cultures, and continents. As a coach, and later as an administrator working with young athletes and parents, I started noticing patterns - some took teams in a desired direction, other patterns proved futile. I learned from different styles of leadership and added my own perspective to the teachings.
In addition to examining how one can be a great leader by being an effective mentor, here are the eight steps in creating a winning team culture:
(1) Identifying and defining your guiding values.
(2) Creating a "new beginning" by clearing old habits and patterns.
(3) Assigning roles and galvanizing your team around key role models from within the organization.
(4) Engaging your team around a common goal.
(5) Creating an environment of trust and accountability.
(6) Focusing your team's efforts in a step-by-step system towards the desired goal.
(7) Measuring and rewarding success along the way.
(8) Implementing a self-correcting system to restore the desired course if deviations occur.
Putting it all into a system, that can be applied across a variety of sports and circumstances, is the basis for my upcoming session "The Keys to Becoming a Successful Mentor" at the Play Like A Champion Sports Leadership Conference in June on the campus of the University of Notre Dame. I hope you can join me!
"I came to understand the difference between a total authoritarian, soul-crushing style of leadership that
got results and the wise, inspirational, mentor-like style of leadership that
produced the same results but did not crush any souls in the process." ~ Lina Taylor