January 03, 2013

Winning ... Is it Everything?

What does it take to create a winner? 

I have read many leadership books — books about business leaders, educational leaders, sports leaders. One thing that is clear is that "winning" does not happen by chance. If it does, it's an anomaly.

For many years, I've thought about interviewing coaches who have led successful high school programs. In fact, I have worked with many successful coaches and enjoyed many (often heated) discussions around the fire (no pun intended).
Each coach has his vision of how his team became successful. It's fun to hear people debate the finer points of athlete development. Just because one has a talented group of athletes does not guarantee success. Anyone who has coached no this is true.

In talking to a former colleague who had led a team to a state football championship, he told me, "Rick, one of my favorite teams to coach was a group that went 5–4. They weren't very talented but they worked so hard."
Coaching is a great profession, but there are so many factors: athletes, parents, community … facilities, practice times, administrative support …
I know another coach who coached basketball in a tough conference and went something like 7–13 in the regular season on year, but the team went all the way to the quarterfinals. With all the complaining and finger pointing, he quit after that season and coached (successfully) at another school. A few years later, he went back to the former school (where he still taught) and led the team to the State Finals. They did not win — but they were there.

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