Creating A Winning Culture


I follow a lot of business magazines on Twitter, so when the headline “What It Takes To Win” appeared on my timeline, I knew I was going to bring it over here.  This is what all coaches are trying to figure out, right?  Rather than an article, it’s actually a series of five short videos interviewing Howard Schultz, the CEO of Starbucks.  I’d say he knows a thing or two about being successful against fierce competition!

Many times in my gym, we say that winning is an outcome, not part of the process…and if we control the process, we can reasonably assume that the outcome will be positive in our favor.   So we don’t talk “winning” necessarily, but there are steps we can take to ensure we’ve done our best to control the process.

3 important attitudes teams need in order to create a winning culture

Culture creation  Schultz said two things about creating culture that stuck out to me…and that I think are linked.  First, those people who are willing to get their hands dirty will succeed.  What does that mean?  It means the team is “all in”.  Is everyone on our team giving it their all?  Sometimes players will hold back because they don’t think they’re an important piece of the team or because they’re new to the team.  When everyone is willing to go all out every day in practice, our odds of winning increase.  Second, everyone needs a stake in what it takes to win.  That way, no one’s to blame when things go wrong, but more importantly, no one can gloat when things work out the way we’re hoping.  It levels the playing field.

Great team chemistry  If you’ve been reading for a while or you’ve seen me speak, you know that I believe that sport is about way more than skills and drills and games…it’s about the intangibles we use each and every day!  Sport is just the Trojan horse for creating amazing human beings.  Schultz says that unbridled enthusiasm and passion are essential for great team chemistry.  Of course, this is part of the great culture that we’ll create of players who are willing to get their hands dirty.  An enthusiasm for practicing, for getting better, for working hard, for pushing each other, for excelling, for never giving up, for supporting one another…that’s what will give our team’s great chemistry.

Make bold moves   As Robert Frost said, “I took the road less traveled, and that has made all the difference.”  Winning may mean we have to swim upstream and do things a little differently.  A great line from the video is that great leaders must be able to see what’s around the corner.  Maybe you see that your team’s leadership is in its younger classes…how will you handle that while maintaining your team chemistry?  Maybe you think a player should switch positions, but you don’t think she’ll be all that fired up about it…how will you sell it to her?  There are so many situations that require the coach’s forethought…will we be ready?  One word of caution, whenever we do things that are outside of the box, people will think we’re doomed to fail.  Making bold moves means we must have the courage of our convictions and do what we think is best for the team.

So, here we are!  We’ve got the steps mapped out for creating a winning culture: Everyone on the team needs a stake in its success or failure, passion for the team and how the team plays is critical, and a willingness to make bold moves and do things differently.