Even if you are not a sports fan – here is a valuable lesson in living values. Being a big college basketball fan, myself and many other VCU alumni were deeply saddened when we lost our basketball coach. Shaka Smart, one of the most sought after coaches in the country is known for building winning programs. I mean winning in the big sense –not just in wins and losses on the basketball court. He won with his players, the university the fans and the community. He is now the head basketball coach at the University of Texas where he was hired to do just that.
While flipping through my weekly issue of Sports illustrated, I was presently surprised to find an article about him. Written by Brain Hamilton, Attack the Day: Shaka Smart instilling his style in first summer at Texas highlights Coach Smart’s leadership style. The part of the article which resonated with me most was the importance he places on values and how he expects all players to make them real. When Values are just labels – they are content free and are meaningless.
How does he do this? By having each player live them! Here is an example of how we does it with the teams value of “appreciation” wants to manifest the value of “Appreciation.” Here is an excerpt from Sports Illustrated writer Brian Hamilton’s article:
Smart is gifted with uncommon charisma and a relentlessly positive outlook, but he is just like every other coach taking on a new job. He must motivate strangers to buy what he is selling. This is Appreciation Monday, and Smart gives every player homework. Each must demonstrate nonverbal appreciation to someone that day—a hug, a smile—and report back. “It’s tough to do,” says Holland, who will fulfill his duty by hugging the strength coaches, “but he wants to hear about it.” Smart demands that his players live his core values.
Leaders who produce results are able decide what is most important and bring those concepts to life in order to achieve results. In our strategy planning retreats with senior leaders, we will we often ask people to take out a blank sheet of paper and write down their company values. It is not uncommon to see some struggle with this exercise — much less be able to provide examples of how people live them. Values expressed and lived are an important part of any organization. The set the tone for the culture – which ultimately is what Strategy rides on.
We could all learn from coach Smart – he Thinks To Win