Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Lessons From A Wolf: Team Unity Through Individual Uniqueness

Every wolf has its own voice. Every wolf respects the voice of every other wolf.

There is not a more eerie, mournful, frightening or beautiful sound at night than the musical extravaganza of a howling wolf pack. Campers and hunters who have heard this chorus are filled with wonder but are also usually immobilized by fear. Because of the melody of voices, it often sounds like they are surrounded by scores of wolves.

In truth, there are usually no more than five to eight wolves howling in a pack. The secret is that the wolves are always careful not to duplicate each other. Each wolf assumes a unique pitch, respecting the distinctiveness of the other members of the pack. While the notes may change, as in any beautiful song, one wolf will not copy the pitch of another.
Interestingly, this respect for the individual only emphasizes the true unity of the group. They are one, but they are individuals, each contributing to the organization in their own unique way. Every wolf has his own voice. Every wolf respects the voice of every other wolf.

While no one knows for sure why wolves sing, nature has blessed them with a talent they have perfected through the generations. However, we can make some educated guesses about the phenomenon; they are happy, excited, playful, territorial, and sorrowful. They may be simply reaffirming the spirit and unity of their pack. After all, why do birds sing? Why do we?

An additional reason that wolves may howl is that it provides a time, a place and an event for all social barriers to be broken. Wolves have a strong social order, with each member understanding its role and place. When we observe wolves eating together, we see what seems to be curtsies, bows, whines, and hugs—all according to each member’s “place” in the organization. But when wolves howl together, all barriers are dropped, as if to say, “We are one, but we are all unique, so don’t tread on us.” As anyone who has ever listened to this magical howling choir will testify, its message is heard.

The wolf symphony makes the pack appear a much more formidable foe than would be the case if they all sounded the same. No wonder intruders become confused and frightened at what they assume to be an army of wolves.

So, too, are human organizations and teams more formidable when the awareness of each individual is celebrated rather than stifled. Each person assumes his share of responsibility for the group by employing his special talents and strengths. By members expressing their own uniqueness and respecting and encouraging the uniqueness of others, the unit becomes a strong, formidable one.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

The Sandwich Method—Morgan Wootten

In communicating with the players on the court, I find it extremely helpful to precede constructive criticism with praise. I use what I like to call the ‘sandwich technique.’ First, I compliment an aspect of the player’s performance, then I slip in the constructive comment, and then I top it off with more praise.

An example of this is, ‘Hey, Bill, great rebound! But you didn’t look up. And if you had, we had someone wide open who could have triggered the break. But you did a great job of protecting the ball, and that at least assured us of the possession.’

The two things people like to hear the most are the sound of their own name and a compliment — preferably together. So when talking to your players, if you call their name and pay them a compliment, you know you’re going to have their full attention. And that is communication as it’s best.

—Adapted from Morgan Wootten’s Coaching Basketball Successfully

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

What Equals 100 Percent? An Interesting Formula

What equals 100 percent? What does it mean to give 100 percent? What determines 100 percent in all of your endeavors? This formula provides an interesting answer.

If you take:

And represent it as:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26


= 96 percent

= 100 percent


Coach Yourself: A Motivational Guide For Coaches And Leaders

About This Book
Coach Yourself is a unique book, compiled exclusively for coaches to provide you with physical, mental and spiritual motivation throughout the season. In his follow-up to A Season In Words, veteran coach Dan Spainhour arms you with quotes and motivational ideas to help you achieve peace of mind throughout the season from how to stay motivated to handling critics.


Wednesday, March 11, 2020

The 5 x 3 Communication Method

When your team is going through change, good communication is essential. Try the 5 x 3 method--offer your message 5 times using 3 different communications vehicles. Repeat the message 5 times in different ways—team meeting, one-on-one, text message, etc. to ensure your message is received.

–Adapted from Leadership and the art of transformation by Stephen Ekstrom


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Wednesday, March 4, 2020

You Don’t Do It Alone

Author Alex Haley, had a picture in his office, showing a turtle sitting atop a fence. The picture was there to remind him of a lesson he learned long ago: “If you see a turtle on a fence post, you know he had some help. Any time I start thinking, wow, isn’t this marvelous what I’ve done! I look up at that picture and remember how this turtle—me—got up on that post,” Haley often said.


A Season In Words by Dan Spainhour

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Honest To Goodness Leadership Traits—Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln is regarded by many as one of the greatest leaders of all time. What can leaders take away from what we know about Honest Abe that is relevant today? Here are just a few suggestions that leaders everywhere can learn from the sixteenth president.
  • Listen deeply to what people on all sides say. Lincoln was a northerner, but understood the plight of the southerners. He incorporated their feelings and struggles into his speeches and correspondence.
  • Acknowledge your errors and learn from your mistakes. That was something Lincoln was particularly good at, and it commanded respect from allies and opponents alike.
  • Be able to relax and replenish your energy. In Lincoln’s case, he went to the theater and told humorous stories before tough cabinet meetings. Roosevelt had cocktail hours during World War II. One rule: Attendees couldn’t talk about the war. Instead, they discussed books and other leisure activities.
  • Keep your anger in perspective. When Lincoln got angry with someone, he had a ritual of writing a letter that expressed all his emotions. But he then put it aside and never sent it.
  • Don’t be a success hog. Lincoln knew he would not be able to accomplish things without the help of his cabinet and staff. He shared credit for successes among his team.
  • If you have a weakness, choose someone who is strong in that area to counterbalance you. Lincoln brought his political adversaries into his cabinet. He did it with Edwin M. Stanton, who publicly belittled him. Lincoln later made him secretary of war because felt Stanton was the best person for the job.
  • Be visible during a crisis. Whenever something bad happened during the Civil War, Lincoln went out amidst the troops. For leaders, in tough times let yourself be seen. Setting an example is the most powerful thing of all.
  • Master timing. Lincoln would announce changes in policies after gauging public sentiment. After you’ve absorbed the feeling of your staff, make the right decision about the time to announce a change or new way of doing things.
  • When speaking publicly, get it right. Lincoln worked for days on speeches and letters and used the best examples he could. He used examples from everyday life. People were able to relate to them better.
  • Shoulder responsibility for the failures of your subordinates.Lincoln knew that he was the leader of a team and he was ultimately responsible for what everyone under him did.

--Adapted from Lincoln’s Leadership Lessons

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Try These Ideas When You Are Forced To Reprimand A Team Member

Here are some things to keep in mind when you need to reprimand a team member:
  • Let the team member know that the behavior is undesirable, not the person.
  • Let the person know that you care about him or her as a person, but that you expect more from them.
  • Do not punish anyone who is unable to perform a task. Take action on those who are able to perform the task but are unwilling or unmotivated to succeed.
  • A team member should be called on the carpet immediately after the undesirable behavior.
  • Do not humiliate a person in front of others.
  • Make sure that the person understands exactly what behavior led to the reprimand or punishment.
  • Do not hold a grudge. When it is over…it is over! Move on!
Reprimanding is never a fun task. However, by following these concepts you will reduce the number of repeat offenders on your team


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