Leadership Blog

Read our latest blog posts on leadership, building a championship culture, team building, mental toughness, and competitiveness.

6 Leadership Lessons from 6 Final Fours

Love to take your team to the highest level of your sport? The Final Four is obviously the ultimate goal and destination for college basketball athletes, coaches, administrators, and fans. Being truly blessed to work with four schools in Arizona, Michigan, North Carolina, and South Carolina whose men’s basketball teams have advanced to the Final Four, here are 6 Leadership Lessons from the Final Fours I have been a part of to help your team get to (or stay at) the top.

How to Take Your Sports Leadership Training to the Next Level

Looking to take your Sports Leadership training to the next level? This one key adjustment to your leadership training will elevate and extend its impact and yield a BIG payoff for you and your team!

The 9 Requirements of Success: You Won’t Win Without Them

Almost everyone says they want to be successful, yet so few understand exactly what it takes. Discover the 9 Requirements of Success that all championship athletes and coaches use to compete and succeed at the highest levels.

Success Isn’t Available on Demand Nor Instantly Downloadable

Today’s culture has conditioned many of us (especially our technology-tied teenagers) to believe we can instantly have whatever we want, however we want it, whenever we want it. RIGHT NOW! From lightning fast internet speeds to the instant downloading of movies and books, everything is either available NOW or within milliseconds. Unfortunately, success isn’t available on demand nor instantly downloadable.
Not in the sports world.
Not in the academic world.
Not in the business world.
Not in life.

4 Critical Ways Captains and Coaches Shape the Team’s Culture

As a leader, you have a HUGE impact on your team’s culture. It doesn’t matter whether you are a captain, coach, athletic director, principal, etc., the behavior you exhibit, endorse, and enforce sends a strong and clear message about what kinds of attitudes and actions are both acceptable and unacceptable in your culture. Discover four critical ways you can significantly shape your team's culture.


Some serious issues have happened at colleges and high schools around the country that have hurt and scarred people, shut down programs, cost coaches and administrators their jobs, and given a huge black eye to schools, their alumni, and communities. Sadly, in most cases, the team captains either knew about the intolerable instances and did nothing, or WORSE, actually led the abhorrent behavior. Discover several practical and proactive steps coaches, captains, and athletic administrators can take to prevent these problems.

10 Ways to Be a Most Valuable Teammate (MVT)

Everyone is familiar with the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award and undoubtedly this person plays a key role in your team’s success. Yet there is an equally valuable, though often overlooked person, or group of people, who make significant, behind the scenes contributions to your team’s success, culture, and chemistry called MVTs – Most Valuable Teammates. Discover the 10 MVT attitudes and actions that everyone on your team can (and should) demonstrate to help build a Championship Culture within your program.

4 Ways to Find and Fuel Your Fire Within

The insatiable drive to succeed for most championship athletes and coaches comes from within. Rather than needing someone else to light a fire under them, the burning fire comes from within. Discover four powerful ways to find and fuel your fire within.

Rate Your Team’s Responsibility Level

How responsible and reliable are your athletes? Do your athletes take full responsibility for themselves to consistently do what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, at the level it needs to be done? Many coaches are frustrated with the lack of responsibility and accountability shown by several of today’s athletes. To help you and your athletes get a better handle on the situation, use this short yet substantive six-question survey to help you gauge how well your student-athletes take responsibility for themselves.

Is Your Best Player Also Your Best Leader?

“As I look back on my coaching career, almost all of our best seasons occurred when my best player was also my best leader,” UNC baseball coach Mike Fox astutely noted when we first designed and developed the Carolina Leadership Academy. Think about your best seasons as a coach… I’ll bet you too had many of your best seasons when your Best Player was at least one of, if not the best leader on your team. Discover what you should do when your Best Player is your best leader, when your Best Player is not a leader, and when your Best Player is your worst leader.

Take Charge of Your Choices!

Each athlete's success is determined by the quality of choices they make on a DAILY basis. Between training, conditioning, lifting, and studying, athletes get 100 choices every single day that can impact their success - though most don't even recognize them. Share this article with your athletes to help them Take Charge of their Choices!

20 Strategies to Develop Your Team Leaders

Discover 20 practical and proven strategies you can use to develop more responsible and respected leaders on your team.

Creating a Championship Culture

Discover how to create a Championship Culture in your program by identifying and developing at least 5 core concepts that you ideally want your culture to have.

6 Things Responsible Athletes Do That Irresponsible Ones Don’t

One of the biggest frustrations I consistently hear from coaches and athletic administrators is the lack of responsibility and accountability shown by many of today’s athletes. So many coaches are tired of dealing with entitled athletes who have little clue what it means to be responsible for themselves nor accountable to the team. This article highlights the 6 things Responsible Athletes Do that Irresponsible Ones Don't.

8 Culture and Leadership Lessons from Urban Meyer

How has Coach Meyer been able to win two football national championships and sustain a high level of success at both Florida and Ohio State? Discover 8 Culture and Leadership Lessons from Urban Meyer to help take your team to the top!

10 Things Teammates Don’t Let Teammates Do in Championship Cultures

In Championship Cultures, teammates hold themselves and each other accountable for championship attitudes and actions. They don’t just preach responsibility, accountability, ownership, and teamwork - they ACT ON IT each and every day. There is little tolerance for things that clearly get in the way of winning and representing the program in a first-class manner. Discover the 10 Things Teammates Don't Let Teammates Do in Championship Cultures...

How to Endorse and Enforce a Championship Culture

Learn practical and proven ways to build and sustain a Championship Culture by Endorsing and Enforcing your team's Standards with this practical and proven model.

How Does Your Culture Compare? 6 Intriguing Results from the Team Culture Survey

Wonder how your team culture stacks up with other programs from across the nation and around the world? We surveyed over 650 coaches and athletes from around the world through our Team Culture Survey and here are some intriguing findings from the results.

4 Things Your Captains Must Do to Create a Championship Culture

Developing a Championship Culture is absolutely essential to your program’s success both on and off the playing field. While your leadership is certainly critical to building and sustaining the kind of winning culture you need to be successful, your captains and team leaders play a HUGE role in molding, managing, monitoring, and maintaining your team’s culture. Discover the 4 things your leaders must do to help you build a Championship Culture on your team.

10 Strategies to Strengthen the Critical Coach-Captain Connection

Coach K hit the nail on the head when he said, “You don’t need a leader. You need a leadership team.” Discover 10 practical strategies you can use to build and strengthen the critical connection between you and your team captains.

12 Things It Takes to Win a Championship

What does it take to win a championship? Having the truly amazing privilege to be a part of over 25 National Championships working with colleges like Michigan, North Carolina, Arizona, Stanford, Illinois, Arkansas, and Notre Dame, here are the 12 most important ingredients I’ve seen that are necessary to win a championship - along with some actual, behind-the-scenes stories to illustrate the principles.

Build a Championship Culture with the Performance-Values Matrix

Looking to build and sustain a Championship Culture in your team, athletic department, or organization? Discover how to use Jack Welch's Performance-Values Matrix to create a Championship Culture on your team.

The 6 Critical Qualities of the World’s Best Captains

What do the world’s best captains and team leaders all have in common? Being privileged to work with tens of thousands of the very best captains at our Leadership Academies across the world, we get a very special, in-depth view into what makes them tick and what makes them so successful. We’ve discovered six critical qualities where coaches and athletes say the best leaders excel and ultimately differentiate themselves from the rest of the team. Here are the Top 6 Critical Qualities of the Best Captains.

Inside a Championship Culture: Zappos

What can you as a coach, captain, or athletic director learn about building a Championship Culture from an online shoe retailer? Discover 10 Championship Culture building lessons you can use with your team from Zappos, widely considered to have one of the best cultures in all of the business world.

The 5 Biggest Reasons Why Your Leaders Struggle

Do your leaders struggle with the same challenges most leaders do? Discover the 5 most common areas where all leaders struggle and see what actual teammates and coaches have said about how the struggles negatively impact the team.

7 Strategies to Mold Consistent Competitors

A true competitor is fun to watch. By all measures, a competitor hates to lose, expects to win, embraces any challenge to improve, and often identifies him/herself by a win or loss. Competitors usually persist and persevere until they reach their goal. And once attained . . . they quickly set a higher standard and then demand even more from themselves and their teammates. What would it take to develop stronger and more consistent competitors? What would it take to have athletes that are driven to pursue “something more”, “sold-out” to get better, and truly passionate about winning and being the best? Discover 7 strategies to mold your athletes into consistent competitors.

Inside a Championship Culture: Zingerman’s

What can a world-famous deli teach coaches, ADs, and athletes about leadership, motivation, and building a winning culture in the sports world? In my quest to discover, dissect, and disseminate the secrets of world-class cultures in the sports, business, military, and education worlds, Zingerman’s Deli clearly stood out as a best-in-class business. Here are 10 Leadership Lessons I have learned from my immersion in Zingerman’s papably positive and productive culture that you too can apply to your team.

5 Ways Your Standards Define and Differentiate Your Program

Every team trains, every team lifts, every team conditions. It’s not that you do those things. It’s at what Standards you do those things. In looking at the success secrets of the over 25 NCAA National Championship with which we have been privileged to work, we’ve discovered five important ways that championship teams set the standard in their programs - and many times set the standard in their sport as well. As you read through each of them, I encourage you to turn the microscope on your program to see how well your team employs each of the concepts.

Inside a Championship Culture: The Ron Clark Academy

We learn a ton about winning and success from the amazing college sports teams we get to work with on a regular basis. However, I also love to take field trips to other high-performance environments to see what world-class leaders, cultures, and commitment look like in action outside the sports world. By far one of my best field trips has been to Atlanta to visit the Ron Clark Academy (RCA)! Here are just some of the things I learned from my Ron Clark Academy field trip using our 6 Key Components of Building a Championship Culture model.

4 Ways to Build Up and Train Your Leaders

Dr. Greg Shelley, Director of our Leadership Academies at Lafayette, Fordham, and Colgate, shares four strategies for building up and training your team leaders he calls "Talk It, Support It, Own It, and Enforce It."

Leadership Lessons from the Holy Cross Leadership Academy

Each week we are privileged to learn from so many coaches and student-athletes from programs across the country. We’ve been very fortunate to partner with Holy Cross, a member of the Patriot League, over the past few years. Here are some practical and proven ideas you can use with your team from the coaches and student-athletes from the Holy Cross Leadership Academy.

Culture Wins: 10 Keys to the Amazing Rise of Michigan Basketball

With a national runner-up finish in 2013, a Big Ten Conference Championship in 2014, and an Elite 8 finish in 2014, Michigan men’s basketball has re-emerged as one of the top basketball teams in the country after a 20-year hiatus. Having the amazing opportunity to learn from, work with, and witness first-hand this program’s successful transformation and meteoric rise over the past six years directing the Michigan Leadership Academy, here are 10 key strategies you too can use to upgrade and transform your program's culture from mediocre to magnificent.

Create a Job Description for Your Captain

What if you wrote a captain job description and asked all interested athletes to apply for the job? With this method, the position, required roles, responsibilities, skills, and all the captain qualifications can be clearly outlined and discussed prior to any nomination process. The goal is to get your best leaders in the captain roles. Writing a captain job description and interviewing your best leaders can help you reach this goal.

6 Leadership Lessons from the George Washington Leadership Academy

The George Washington Student-Athlete Leadership Academy has been a very popular program among GW student-athletes and coaches. Under the guidance of Patrick Nero, Director of Athletics and Recreation, GWU has undertaken a significant evolution of the athletic department culture over the past few years.

Your 10-Step Blueprint to Build a Championship Culture

Looking to build a Championship Culture in your program? As detailed in our new book How to Build and Sustain a Championship Culture, here is an overview of a proven 10-Step Blueprint you can use to build a Championship Culture in your program based on our work with over 25 teams that have won national championships.

6 Key Components of a Championship Culture

What does it take to build a Culture of Commitment, Accountability, and Ownership in your program? In taking an in-depth examination of dozens of championship programs like North Carolina women's soccer, Duke men's basketball, Arizona softball, Tennessee women's basketball, the New England Patriots, the San Antonio Spurs, and several others, you will almost always see these six key components being executed at a high level.

7 Steps to Move Someone Up the Commitment Continuum™

Need to motivate some Resistant, Reluctant, or Existent people on your team? Trying to get some people to move from merely Compliant to Committed or Compelled?

The art of coaching and leadership is really figuring out how to move people to the right on the Commitment Continuum™. The key to moving people up the Commitment Continuum™ is systematically addressing and attacking the specific reasons why someone is Resistant, Reluctant, and Existent. Discover 7 practical steps you can use to move people up the Commitment Continuum™.

The 6 Key Components of Commitment

How do you define commitment? What exactly does it mean to truly be committed to someone or something? In today's age of entitlement and instant gratification, the critical concept of commitment is getting watered down in the minds of many athletes. In fact, 80% of coaches believe that today's athletes don't fully understand nor appreciate the importance of commitment. To combat this insidious assault on the importance and value of commitment, I have athletes define the concept of commitment and have them discuss the 6 Key Components of Commitment

Frustrated by Your Athletes’ Lack of Commitment?

Frustrated by the lack of commitment shown by some of your athletes? Discover the #1 reason most coaches think that today’s athletes are less committed based on our Commitment Survey results.

Making a Total Commitment to Your Task, Training, and Team

Want to reach your full potential, gain the respect of your teammates and coaches, and contribute significantly to your team’s success in the process? Former Michigan basketball player Trey Burke is a great example of a person who made a Total Commitment to his task, training, and team. If you too want to take your game and leadership to a whole new level, here are three key things you can commit to starting today.

Do Your Leaders Have Your Permission to Lead?

Wish your leaders would step up and take more ownership of your team? One of the themes we hear from student-athlete leaders across the country is that they are hesitant to lead because they are unsure if they have permission to do so. This tentativeness to lead is especially evident when it comes to the scary but necessary task of holding teammates accountable to your team standards, both on and off the playing fields. Discover why your athletes want and need your permission to lead.

9 Leadership Lessons from the Baddour Carolina Leadership Academy

As the respected "Granddaddy of the them all," the Baddour Carolina Leadership Academy has over a decade of experience developing Carolina’s next generation of leaders. Named in honor of UNC athletic director emeritus Dick Baddour, discover 9 cutting edge Leadership Lessons from UNC that you can use with your team.

10 Leadership Lessons from the Colgate Leadership Academy

Discover 10 Leadership Lessons from the Colgate Leadership Academy led by Dr. Greg Shelley. These 10 lessons are important takeaways for leaders at all levels.

10 Leadership Lessons from the Lehigh Athletics Leadership Academy

In its fifth year, the John A. Cable Center for Athletics Leadership Development, housing the Lehigh Athletics Leadership Academy, fosters and inspires a culture of leadership at Lehigh. Written by Lehigh Athletics Leadership Academy Director Julie Sterrett, here are 10 Leadership Lessons from Lehigh that you can adopt or adapt with your team.

6 Leadership Lessons from the Razorback Leadership Academy

Continuing our in-depth look at our various Leadership Academies across the nation, this article explores six Leadership Lessons you can use with your team from the Razorback Leadership Academy, the SEC’s first comprehensive Leadership Academy. You'll discover great ideas from Arkansas Baseball, Arkansas Softball, and the Leadership Team Meeting of the Razorback Leadership Academy.

6 Leadership Lessons from the Illini Leadership Academy

Now in its sixth season, Illinois was the first Big Ten school to develop a comprehensive Leadership Academy for their student-athletes and coaches. Discover six practical Leadership Lessons from the Illini Leadership Academy that you can use with your team.

10 Leadership Lessons from the Michigan Leadership Academy

One program that is really on the rise is the University of Michigan. Not only is Michigan fortunate to have a slew of world-class coaches and talented student-athletes, but new athletic director Dave Brandon has ushered in a whole new era in Ann Arbor. Here are 10 ideas, innovations, and insights I picked up from my latest trip to Michigan I hope you might be able to adopt, adapt, or apply to your program.

The 5 Kinds of Leaders Every Team Needs to Be Successful

Your leaders are absolutely critical to your success for a variety of reasons. Finding and developing just one effective leader can be challenging enough for most teams. However, in actuality, you really need 5 kinds of leaders if your program is going to be successful on and off the playing field. Discover the 5 kinds of leaders you need and how you can better develop them.

What Kind of Culture Do You Have? Discover the 8 Kinds of Cultures

Is your team’s culture where you want or need it to be? To build a winning culture, you must first honestly and accurately assess your current culture. Being privileged to work closely with hundreds of programs each year through our Leadership Academies, here are the eight most common kinds of cultures I see when working with a variety of teams. I've categorized the eight cultures based on how much the particular culture values and emphasizes both relationships and results. See which of the eight best describes the current state of your program.

The 10 Plagues of a Problematic Program

Does disappointment, drama, and dysfunction seem to characterize your program? Do your athletes spend more time attacking each other and the coaching staff than they do your opponents? Is the stuff hitting the fan with your program? Discover the 10 Plagues that can beset a Problematic Program.

The Declining Program: 6 Biggest Reasons Why Programs Slip

Has your program slipped over the last few years? Are you having trouble maintaining the winning ways your program once had? Getting concerned about your job security as a coach because you just can’t seem to turn things around? Discover the six biggest reasons why programs slip.

The Little Things Make a BIG Difference

Sometimes we need a moment to step away from the "big picture" and focus on the little things, the important things, and those seemingly trivial things that need our attention . . . right now. The "little" things are generally not difficult . . . they just take a little extra time and demand a little extra effort.

The Plateauing Program: 8 Lids That Can Limit Your Program

Has your program leveled off? Does it seem like you are stuck at a certain level of success that you just can’t move beyond? Discover 8 Lids that can limit your program and keep you from breaking through to the Elite level.

How to Build and Sustain an Elite Program

Would you love to build an Elite Program? Virtually every coach dreams of developing an Elite Program that wins championships and everyone's respect along the way. Discover the 8 Obstacles you must overcome to build and maintain an Elite Program.


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