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Archive for February, 2021

Studies In Leadership: Nick Saban

Posted by admin February - 24 - 2021 - Wednesday ADD COMMENTS

Everybody wants to “be like Nick!” But not everybody has the “Jimmy’s and the Joe’s” like Nick has! Talent does make a difference! How you utilize that talent, however, is where Saban has found the secret to success. A lot of people have attempted to duplicate The Process; most have failed. Think of the Saban assistants who’ve gone on to head jobs at other colleges. The only one I can think of who’s been consistently successful is Kirby Smart at Georgia.

I want to share what I’ve found to be some keys to Saban’s effective leadership. Leadership which has led to multiple national championships over the past decade. Always remember, though, it IS Alabama. As someone said, “Bama doesn’t recruit, they request!” Build a better mouse trap and people will flock to your store.

1- Nick Saban emphasizes integrity. He states that it is critical to tell the truth. As the Bible says, “tell the truth in love.” The truth may hurt sometimes but it also has the potential to set you free. How you react to the truth will go a long way in determining if you’re going to grow from the experience. Saban does care about his reputation. He does not lie to his players to win a recruit.

2- Saban has been smart enough to realize that a coach needs to see his own weaknesses and… adapt or even change. Think of the radical change in Bama’s offense when Saban hired Kiffin a few years ago. From the plodding, smash-mouth Power I attack to a wide open spread up-tempo approach to things. Saban was pushing to stop offenses from going up tempo. Now he is one of the biggest advocates for up tempo!

3- Utilization of personnel is a key component of success. Two things here: first, Saban has no problem playing true freshmen on special teams. They get a chance to contribute and compete early on. Those freshmen get rewarded for “being patient” while they wait their turn to start. Second, Saban rotates his star players. (Think Tailback depth at Bama!) He makes it clear that “it’s not how much you play; it’s all about what you do with each opportunity to contribute.” It keeps guys fresh and gives more players a chance to get on the field in meaningful situations. It also builds depth. Did you know that Bama’s All American Left Offensive Tackle, Alex Leatherwood, had to come in and start the second half of the National Championship game that Tua threw the last second TD pass? Leatherwood was a true freshman at the time. He stepped in and he stepped up!

4- Finally, Saban is the Master Recruiter. He knows how to sell his program. Have you ever thought about why the #1 Tailback in the country would want to sign with Alabama when they already have 2 “star” running backs on the team? Why wouldn’t that guy go where he knows he can start right away? Why go to Bama? I think it’s because Saban only recruits those players who are super competitive and he is great at “selling a vision” to those select few high school recruits who possess the right amount of self-confidence that they actually want to compete. Saban can always say, “Come to Alabama, young man, and you will be competing for a National championship every year you are at our school.”

It seems that Saban has to rebuild his coaching staff every year. His coaches get hired away by other schools in hopes that a little of the “Saban magic” will rub off on the new program. Yet, he continues to win. It’s hard enough getting to the top. Staying there is just as difficult. A coach still has to deal with psychological and social issues that can cause a winning program to implode. Saban never wavers. He knows what produces success and he will not change his philosophy… nor should he. It seems to work prettttttttty well, doesn’t it??!!

Studies in Leadership: Gen. George Patton

Posted by admin February - 16 - 2021 - Tuesday ADD COMMENTS

I have read extensively on WW II. I guess I enjoy that era so much because it was America’s “Greatest Generation”— which also happens to be my dad’s generation. I seem to be drawn to that period in history. My mom shared with me that the biggest disappointment in my dad’s life was that he could not serve in the military during WW II. He was born with a cleft pallet and hair lip so he was classified 4F. He stayed home and coached the local high school football team during the war. I guess that’s where my desire to coach came from!

Some of the greatest leaders in history (both military and civilian) lived and led during WW II. George Patton was, in my opinion, one of the greatest military leaders in the history of warfare. He was different…. but the characteristics that made him different were ultimately what made him such a great leader. Patton simply did not care what others thought of him. That is… except for the soldiers who fought under his command. With his men, he made sure that they understood what he expected of them. When they performed, he was quick to compliment them. When they failed in their duty, they heard about that too! A strong disciplinarian, he demanded discipline from those who worked for him. Looking good in his uniform was a priority for Patton and he expected the same in his men.

Patton was a hustler… and he made sure that his men hustled too! He was fast. He could move his tanks at an incredible rate to attack the enemy where they never expected him to be. (Think the Battle of the Bulge around Bastogne!) Patton liked to stay on the offensive. He was aggressive— preferring to attack rather than waiting for the enemy to do something first.

An excellent “student of the game of warfare,” Patton was a man of strategy. He scouted well and knew the terrain his tanks would have to travel over. He also gained a lot of information about his enemy— both their strengths and weaknesses. Because of this, Patton’s tank corps could make their opponent divide his forces so that Patton only attacked part of them.

Finally, Patton knew what he wanted to do and how to do it. He rarely asked for council of others. He was THE leader! He was harder on himself than he was on his staff officers. He was not going to be out-worked by anyone who worked for him. He was best summed up by his staff officers. They called General George Patton “true, brave and honest.” Is that how your staff, Head Coaches, would describe YOU???!!!

Studies in Leadership: Urban Meyer

Posted by admin February - 9 - 2021 - Tuesday ADD COMMENTS

Let’s change venues this week and look at a successful coach instead of a military officer. I find the similarities interesting. See what you think!

I found a video that was aired a few years ago where 4 Ohio State players were asked, “What makes Coach Meyer a great leader.” It’s always revealing to hear what underlings have to say about their leader. They were candid in their assessment while also being insightful.

The main characteristic shared about Urban Meyer’s coaching style was that of “tough love.” He has high expectations and he pushes his players. However, all 4 players stated that Meyer has a great relationship with his players. “We know that he cares about us and wants the best for us. That’s why he pushes us to be the best we can be.” That statement is quite telling!

What I hear here is that there is a fine line between “pushing” and “abusing.” If a coach does not show compassion, he comes off as a martinet. That “Lombardi” style of coaching went out the window years ago!

A second characteristic that was reiterated by all 4 players being interviewed was an “attention to detail.” They knew that they were well-prepared by their coaches when they took the field for a game. Here is a classic example of my “5 P’s of Success“: PROPER Preparation Prevents Poor Performance. They called Meyer a great teacher. The players were not confused. Meyer is consistent— no mixed messages. Interestingly, one of the players said that “he is not intransigent. He is willing to listen and evaluate. But Coach Meyer is clear in what he wants us to do.” Another player said that “on game day, the only thing to worry about is: Go Fast!”

A coach who does his homework and then presents a clear and concise game plan to his team is one who will succeed more often than fail. However, preparing properly is one of those things that most people do NOT like to do. I have never forgotten the phrase I heard years ago about separating the “good” from the “great.” The quote says that “successful people DO the things that unsuccessful people do not LIKE to do!” Notice that it doesn’t say that successful people ENJOY doing those things. It simply states that they possess the self-discipline and the realization that those things must get done!

One player said that Meyer is a great motivator. He talks to the players a lot about “why are you here?” “What are your goals?” What is our mission?” By challenging his players to look inside, Meyer has that ability to spark his players’ fire.

Finally (and I think this is extremely important for HS coaches), several of his players said that Meyer develops them as men. “Coach Meyer does not look at us as just football players. He is concerned about our character too. He teaches us about being winners in life. He challenges us to be successful in ALL phases of our life. He shows care and concern.”

THAT is so important in building that coach/player relationship. It’s trite but true: “Nobody cares how much you KNOW until they know how much you CARE!”

Urban Meyer, like the others I’ve shared, possesses that “it” factor. He is confident; he is intense. Meyer has high expectations…. of himself, his staff and his players. Most of all, he is a “people person.” How would your players describe YOU if asked “how would you describe your head coach?” Hummmmmmm???

Studies in Leadership: Napoleon Bonaparte

Posted by admin February - 3 - 2021 - Wednesday ADD COMMENTS

Still considered one of the greatest tacticians in the history or warfare, Napoleon Bonaparte rose from a lowly Corporal in the French army to commanding an army that (almost) conquered the entire world. How did he accomplish this feat?

Napoleon, like all great leaders, studied the “art of war.” He understood the tactics and strategies of offensive warfare. One of his strongest characteristics was the ability to make quick (and good!) decisions in the midst of the battle. I have met a lot of coaches who do a great job in preparing all week; however, their ability to make game-time adjustments was lacking. The ability to “see” what’s going on during the battle separates the good leader from the great one!

I love this definition of a great leader. It says that “a great leader has the ability to get others to do what they don’t want to do… and like it!” I call that being an inspiring influence. Think about this: in the era of warfare (early 19th century) when Napoleon’s army was fighting, the men lined up in rows and began marching right into withering musket and cannon fire. How crazy is that? Yet these men went… because they believed in their leader. Napoleon was recognized as always making a “connection” with his men. How did he achieve this? He showed concern for them. They knew that he cared.

How did he motivate his troops? Napoleon was quoted as saying that “it is with baubles that men are led.” Napoleon handed out badges and ribbons to his men— perhaps the first commander to do such a thing for his army. He knew how to appeal to the sentiment of ambition and pride in his men. This is why I’ve always been a strong advocate of presenting helmet stickers to our players.

Another characteristic of Napoleon’s army was the high caliber of his cadre officers. Many armies in the past have been led by political appointees and/or a rich man who “bought” a commission as an officer. Not so with Napoleon. He selected officers who possessed strong leadership characteristics themselves. He knew he could count on them when the bullets started flying. How about you? Do you have confidence in your assistant coaches?

Finally, Napoleon Bonaparte had the “it” factor. Some have called it charisma. It all boils down to the leader’s personality being such that people are drawn to him. An effective leader has to “lead from the front.” People can’t follow you if you’re behind them! Effective leaders have the personality traits of confidence (not cockiness) and humility— all rolled into one. It is this combination that gets people/players to do things that they don’t want to do (run sprints; practice in August heat) and… like it!