Do You Want to Create Something Special?

At least once in our lives, most of us have been fortunate enough to have been a part of a special team, group of friends, or organization: players wanted to win together instead of just caring about their own performance, a group of friends paid attention to each and every member of the group, people in the organization were enthusiastic about collaborating with each other to achieve meaningful progress.

Even if we haven’t experienced something like this personally, we still know what it looks like after watching films like The Miracle, Remember the Titans, The Goonies, or LOTR: The Fellowship of the Ring. 

It might seem like these special teams come together organically, or kind of happen by chance. However, when you really look at it, you’ll notice that all great teams have something in common: great leadership.

The coach who motivates everyone to pull in the same direction. The friend who makes sure everyone’s invited and looked after in the group. The CEO or President who chooses the right people to create a great team that can achieve something special.

The U.S.A. Olympic Hockey Team had Coach Herb Brooks, T.C. Williams had Coach Herman Boone, the Goonies had Mikey Walsh, and the Fellowship had Gandalf the Grey. 

Since my first day as a coach, I knew that if I wanted to have a great team, I needed to be a great leader. But that doesn’t just happen overnight. It took me over 15 years of coaching and studying great teams to realize these leaders all followed a similar framework.

  1.  Leadership – Many leaders have inspiring visions, but the great leaders understand that their own personal example is more powerful than anything. They constantly work on themselves, sticking to personal discipline to keep them grounded. 
  2.  Establish Relationships and Standards – The best leaders show they care through the way they spend their time.  They make time in the schedule to connect with each individual as a person, and for team members to connect with each other. They don’t make a bunch of rules, but create behavioral expectations (standards) that contribute directly to the team’s goal and vision. 
  3.  Support Relationships and Standards – Poor leaders set the culture and then leave it. Great leaders are like gardeners: they know whatever they plant, they have to nurture. Relationships take a continuous investment of time. Standards take work to clarify, reminders to get back on track, and coaching to develop everyone’s capacity to meet and raise the standard. 
  4.  Enforce Standards and Reinforce Behaviors – Most leaders have enough awareness to recognize when relationships lack trust and when behaviors are unacceptable. Great leaders start with positive reinforcement, celebrating the good to encourage the kinds of growth they want. Great leaders have the courage and intentionality to enforce standards in a highly demanding, but never demeaning, way.  

Every coach wants to create a special team culture. Every coach wants their team to be extraordinary. 

But we often hope things will just come together. And when they don’t, we blame and complain about today’s generation of athletes or parents. We defend ourselves by pointing out how the sports system is failing us with things like the increase of specialization, year-round training, the transfer portal, NIL deals, and the lack of support for coaches

The best leaders don’t blame, complain, or defend. Like our friend Anson Dorrance shared recently on our podcast [add link to episode post], great leaders see challenges as exciting opportunities, looking for new ways to solve problems. It’s this mindset that has kept him in coaching for nearly 50 years, with more enthusiasm and energy than any coach I have ever met. 

The best leaders create a culture system that:

  • Strengthens connections
  • Raises standards
  • Empowers team leaders

I created The Culture System framework to give transformational coaches the tools and methods they need to create the extraordinary culture they have always wanted. These tools let you create that change in a practical, time-efficient way that any coach can use.

This system:

  • Equips you with the same tools, methods, and techniques used by some of the world’s best teams and organizations
  • Creates a yearly calendar to schedule the essential team-building components
  • Builds a monthly checklist to stay on track with the core techniques and disciplines 

You can learn the framework by reading The Culture System, or get personal training for you and your staff by joining The Culture System Online Training! 

J.P. Nerbun

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