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Book Notes from 'You Win in the Locker Room First' By Mike Smith & Jon Gordon


  • Culture drives expectations and beliefs - expectations and beliefs drive behavior; behavior drives habits; and habits create the future. It all starts with culture
  • I was going to turn this team around, the first step would be to focus on transforming the culture
  • I knew the biggest priority was to create a winning culture in which every member could thrive and excel.
  • This meant we would not only have to create the right culture for the team but also for the rest of the organization.
  • Build your culture up and down
    • Always believed that culture is defined and created from the top down
    • But it comes to life from the bottom up.
    • I had to build our culture by working with the leadership group, coaching staff and football team.
    • Discuss the changes we were making and why we were making them.
    • We wanted to have team members who were going to positively represent the organization on and off the field.
    • All of these moves were in line with the coaching:
      • Philosophy
      • Values
      • Principles
    • We were not going to be adding any outliers to our organization, no matter how much talent they had.
    • Meetings about personnel always involved what a player could bring to the locker room and the culture of the team.
    • We both knew that building a team would be much more complex than just adding the best available athletes.
    • I needed the owner and leaders to buy in and be an integral part of the process.
    • We needed everyone in the organization to buy in.
  • Everyone Creates Your Culture
    • Culture exists of the shared purpose, attitudes, values, goals, practices, behaviors and habits that define a team or organization.
    • To be successful, you need everyone in your organization thinking, believing, talking and behaving in sync.
    • You need everyone aligned with the same beliefs, expectations, behaviors and habits.
    • Have the team Jon Gordon's book - 'The Energy Bus' - gave it to everyone in the organization.
    • I wanted us all thinking the same way.
    • Spent a majority of the my time those first few months as head coach meeting with as many people as possible.
    • It was important for them to know that their roles in the organization were important and that they were going to be an integral part of our team's success in the future.
    • I wanted us to be one team with one culture.
    • I let everyone know that my role was to assist them in doing their jobs and together we would build a winning team.
  • X's and O'x are Overrated.
    • The most overlooked aspect in team sports, and what most coaches leaders fail to grasp, is the fact that it is your culture that will determine whether your strategy works and is sustainable.
    • It is your culture that will be the driving force to create the resiliency, toughness, passion, attitude to overcome the obstacles along the way
    • X's and O's are important but culture is the rock that your organization must be built upon.
    • And if you do it the right way - you will have sustained success.
  • Sustained Culture = Sustained Success
    • Organizations with sustained cultures have sustained success.
    • Culture drives expectations and beliefs
    • Expectations and beliefs drive behaviors
    • Behaviors drive habits
    • Habits create your future.
  • Know What you Stand For
    • The first questions you should ask yourself are
      • What do we stand for
      • What do we want to be known for.
    • Jeff Tambroni - help build Cornell lacrosse into a national power.
      • 'we know who our people are. We know who fits our culture.
      • Jeff built a culture that was defined by a blue-collar work ethic, as well as selflessness, teamwork, relentless effort and continuous improvement.
    • Brad Stevens - head coach Boston Celtics
      • Your culture is not just your tradition
      • It’s the people in the locker room who carry it on.
      • When you have people who fit your culture and carry it on - it comes to life in a powerful way.
    • Apple is famous for saying that culture beats strategy. What you stand for drives everything else.
    • It’s a great example that once you know what you stand for, decisions are easy to make.
  • Process and Milestones
    • Knowing what you stand for is essential
    • The seven responsibilities everyone had
      • Have fun, work hard, enjoy the journey
      • Show respect for everyone
      • Put the team first
      • Do your job
      • Appropriately handle victory and defeat - adulation and humiliation
      • Understand that all organization decisions aim to make the team better, stronger and more efficient
      • Have a positive attitude.
    • We were going to be a team that focused on the process of preparing for each practice and game, not the outcome of the entire season.
    • I knew the best way to do this was to not focus on a season's outcome, but instead use a practice to practice, game to game process.
    • I told them we were going to focus on milestones and that after we accomplished one, we would be presented with the next.
    • Our focus was on the journey not the destination.
  • Focus on the Root - Not the Fruit
    • Milestones and process were a big part of our culture and philosophy those first five years - as a result was had unprecedented success as a team and organization.
    • Jon had often told me that if you focus on the fruit and ignore the root, the tree will die, but if you continue to care for the root and focus on your culture, process, people and purpose, then you'll always have a great supply of fruit
    • Allowed the pressure to steer us away from the very things that made us successful.
    • I didn’t fight enough for our culture.
    • We all learned that hard way that culture can change almost as quickly as the momentum in a football game.
    • I let outside forces and pressure weaken our culture.
  • You Have to Fight for Your Culture and Team
    • I didn’t fight for the team like I should have.
    • I thought that if we won, the leaks and news would go away.
    • I was focused on the outcome instead of fighting for my team and culture.
    • I helped create our culture and I should have fought for it until the end.
    • That’s why I want to encourage you to build your culture, value it, live it, reinforce it, and fight for it.
    • Make sure the new people joining the team and organization know what you stand for.
    • Focus on the process and don't let outside or inside forces sabotage your culture.

follow me and Polaris Solutions on Twitter at @gevjen
Posted on Monday, September 12, 2016 10:55 AM Agile , TeamBuilding | Back to top

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