Team culture is the delicate underlying current of any program.  Simply put, you either control it, or it controls you.  I recently had the chance to talk with my buddy about the progress here at Southern Miss and how we are being intentional in building the type of sustainable culture many of us crave.  There will be some things in this interview that, on the surface, feel counter-intuitive.  But that’s the where the fun begins! You can click on the picture to be taken to the podcast interview. Or you can find it on iTunes.  It’s in the second segment which begins at the 11:20 mark.  

Dan Tudor is a good friend of mine.  I’ve always enjoyed his student-athlete centered approach to the recruiting puzzle, and I also deeply appreciate his unique sense of humor and wit (sometimes even his puns have puns – they’re ridiculously punny – kinda like that – but his are punnier – ok I’ll stop now).

Dan says, “Coaches who listen to this podcast episode will come away with clear ideas on the things to do first when they decide to turn around a program, what mistakes most coaches make in the process, and how to have it all happen sooner, rather than later.”

He also asks me to “move away from rainbows and unicorns” at one point too.  My optimism knows no bounds, apparently.

The Team Culture Focused Way to Turn a Program Around:

Questions That Are Asked:

  • If you had to give advice on the most important thing to do at the start when taking over a new program, or when you want to revitalize your program, what is the first thing you recommend a coach should do? (13:48)
  • When you went in and wanted to put your stamp on the team culture how did you approach that? (14:58)
  • What were the 2-3 things you noticed about the existing culture and then how did you dig in to steer it in the direction you wanted? (17:00)
  • How were the changes received and what was that turn-around like? (18:20)
  • Why are coaches so hesitant to turn things over to the team? (26:30)
  • Do you feel like if you made it “coach-driven” you would have had this same success? (29:05)
  • What is one thing that surprised you most about the team and how they took ownership? (30:40)
  • How do you handle bad attitudes, especially in the transition to a new team culture? (36:08)
  • How much of this philosophy translates to performance on the field/court/course and what causes that? (41:20)
  • How do you avoid plateauing? (45:10)
  • How much does optimism play in to getting through the stage of developing a change in a program? (48:00)
  • What are three mistakes that coaches make when trying to turn around a program and what are three things you recommend coaches do first? (51:25)

Insights To Ponder:

  • Situational leadership: same vs. equitable (15:45)
  • Why “Passion” is a buzzword that’s absolute bunk (20:20)
  • What’s really just a sophisticated way to procrastinate (21:00)
  • Coach driven is NOT the way to go (23:45)
  • Don’t be afraid to toss your 4-year plan (27:30)
  • Avoiding the “Inmates running the asylum” (30:13)
  • Why you may not need team captains (31:10)
  • Playing the long-game: Team culture is the 4-year elephant in the room (33:47)
  • Manners can be condescending, you say? (37:15)
  • Involving parents in your program (39:08)
  • Embracing the challenge (46:08)
  • Your inner-voice must be louder than any others (48:58)
  • You must be authentic (53:25)

I hope that you’ll have a listen.

My bigger hope is that you’ll take a moment and comment your thoughts on how you’re going about it and what’s working and not working for you!

I’m a firm believer that there are many paths to the same destination and I’d love for us to get a dialogue going and learn from one another.

OK, go forth and be brilliant!


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