Leadership Blog

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

4 Leadership Lessons from UConn Women’s Basketball and Geno Auriemma

What makes UConn women's basketball special? Discover 4 Leadership Lessons from Coach Geno Auriemma that have made the Huskies the dominant women's basketball program in college basketball over the past two decades.

12 Leadership Lessons from 4 G.O.A.T. Coaches

Imagine having the super rare opportunity to learn from THE most successful coach in your sport who is widely considered the Greatest Of All-Time (G.O.A.T.) Coach... Discover the 12 Leadership Lessons from Anson Dorrance (UNC women's soccer), Pat Summitt (Tennessee women's basketball), Mike Candrea (Arizona Softball, and Karen Shelton (UNC field hockey)!

Are You a 2R Coach?

The best coaches, managers, leaders, and captains know how and when to do two things well... Discover what these two critical leadership skills are and how well you might do at each one of them.

How a San Quentin Prisoner Enriched Me and 1,000 Student Leaders

Imagine getting an email from an inmate in San Quentin Prison asking for your help... Would you even reply to his request – let alone potentially agree to help someone locked up in one of the world’s toughest and most notorious maximum-security prisons? Discover how one compelled San Quentin prisoner positively impacted me and the lives of 1,000 student leaders, and 3,300 inmates...

6 Ways to Tune Up or Totally Transform Your Culture

Is your team’s culture in need of a tiny tune up, a total transformation, or somewhere in between? If you’re like most coaches and captains, there are some subtle if not significant things you can do to improve your team’s culture. Discover 6 practical and proven ways you can improve your team's culture.

The 7 C’s of Championship Team Building

What does it take to build a winning team chemistry on your team? Discover the 7 C's of Championship Team Building that will help you build a strong bond of unity on your team.

How Much Does Poor Leadership Cost You?

Have you ever stopped to consider what ineffective team captains might cost you and your team in terms of lost games, corrosive cultures, and bad chemistry?

12 Daily To Do’s for Team Captains

Athletes of all ages often wonder, "What can I do to be a better leader?" To help your emerging and existing leaders recognize, value, and act on the many opportunities to lead every day, I have created a simple 12-point checklist. I encourage you to go over the checklist with your leaders to show them just how simple leadership can be - yet how profoundly powerful these 12 daily leadership actions can be on your program.

Know and Perform Your Role

Here's a great article by my valued team member Dr. Greg Shelley on knowing, accepting, and performing roles to share with your athletes!

7 Strategies for Determining Your Team Captains

Trying to figure out how to determine your team captains? Coaches often ask, "What's the best way to determine my team leaders?" There are a variety of ways to select your team leaders, each with their own unique advantages and disadvantages. Here are seven strategies you can use to find the best leaders for the critical captain role and the pros and cons of each selection method.

Champions Execute Without Excuses

"Do your job," succinctly says New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick. Championship teams reliably find a way to get the job done without excuses. Period. Despite injuries and illnesses, adverse weather conditions, travel delays, awful officiating, poor seedings, hostile fans, challenging opponents, etc., Championship teams find a way to succeed. Discover several proven strategies to train your team to consistently execute without making excuses.

Decrease the Things That Cause You to Lose and Increase Your Wins

Baseball coach Casey Stengel once astutely observed, “Most games are lost, not won.” Sadly he’s right. Most teams lose games because they beat themselves, not because they force their opponents to beat them. As you look at the losses you had last season, how many of them were ones that you were the primary contributors to and/or culprits in the losses? Discover how to identify and decrease the things that cause you to lose and increase your wins...

10 Essentials to Executing When the Game is On the Line

Being privileged to work with and learn from over 30 NCAA National Championship teams, they all possessed a Championship Mentality, Championship Culture, and Championship Execution that formed the foundation of their success. Championship teams have the special ability to execute at crunch time, under pressure, when the game, the season, and the Championship are all on the line. Discover the 10 essential things they do to perform in pressure situations.

4 Stages of What It Takes to Win Championships

Athletes and teams tend to progress through four different stages as they attempt to ascend to a lofty Championship level. As you discover each of the four stages, determine which stage your team is in right now, and which one you need to get them to if you want to win Championships.

9 Ways to Help Your Team Win on the Road

Does your team struggle to play well when they are away from home? One of the true tests of a successful team is the ability to win on the road. While several teams seem to execute well at home, for some reason winning on the road tends to be an overly complicated task. Too many teams simply accept the fact that winning on the road is too difficult of a proposition and often mentally lose the game before it starts.
 Here are 9 strategies you can use to help your team win on the road.

Leading by Example Isn’t Leadership? Tell Gandhi, Mother Teresa, and Tim Duncan They Weren’t Leaders

There are some who claim Leading by Example isn’t legitimate leadership… They adamantly profess that only Vocal Leadership is “real” leadership. Do you honestly believe that people like Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Rosa Parks, Derek Jeter, Tim Duncan, Carla Overbeck, and Wayne Gretzky were not effective or successful leaders? Discover the value Leaders by Example bring to your team and don't ever discount or deny it.

The Higher You Want to Climb the More You Must Hold People Accountable

The higher you want to climb, the higher you must set your Standards, and the more you must hold yourself and others accountable. With the daunting and potentially deadly climb of Mount Everest as the example, discover how to set and sustain your Standards at a level that will avoid a fatal fall and allow you to reach the top!

Accountable Teammates Consider the Consequences of Their Actions

When you are on a team, you MUST be fully accountable to your teammates and coaches. They rely and depend on you to consistently do your job and act in ways that benefit the team, not just yourself. Skipping your summer workouts, forgetting the plays, and taking plays off doesn't just hurt you, IT HURTS EVERYONE! Discover the three questions every athlete and coach should ask themselves before they act.

The 7 Secrets of Sport’s Most Successful Coaches

What sklls and qualities differentiate sport's most successful coaches? Over the past 25 years my team and I have had the amazing opportunity to work with and/or learn from hundreds of championship coaches from virtually every sport out there including Mike Krzyzewski, Anson Dorrance, Pat Summitt, Bill Walsh, Mike Candrea, Jenny Levy, John Dunning, Muffet McGraw, Red Berenson, Jerry Kindall, Mary Wise, Roy Williams, Megan Marsden, Jerry Yeagley, Karen Shelton, Frank Busch, and numerous others. While of course they all possess different personalities, training philosophies, and offensive and defensive strategies, in this blog post you'll discover the seven similar qualities that are the hallmarks of their success and credibility with their athletes, staff, administrators, and supporters.

Hold People Accountable by Establishing and Communicating Clear Standards

One of the biggest challenges to holding people accountable is clearly establishing and communicating your Standards and expectations. If people aren't clear about what is expected of them, they will have a hard time delivering what you want and need from them to be successful. This post shows you how to avoid and overcome the problem of Unmet Expectations.

How to Crush a Culture of Entitlement

Do you have some athletes who feel a sense of entitlement on your team?

Do you have athletes who think they deserve things they really haven’t earned?

Entitled athletes come to expect special treatment, privileges, and nice things should be just given to them instead of investing the hard work necessary to earn them. Here are several proven strategies you can use to prevent or crush a Culture of Entitlement on your team.

Need Your Athletes to Be More Accountable?

All coaches desperately want and need ACCOUNTABILITY from their athletes but so few of them consistently have it. In today's society where people are rarely held accountable for their actions, accountability is a dying art. Rate your team on the 6 Attitudes and Actions of Accountable Teammates to see how your athletes stack up...

5 Phases of a Coach’s Philosophy

Like most things in life, a coach’s and leader’s philosophy evolves over time. Many coaches admit it takes a good 10 years of evolution before they arrive at a coaching philosophy that is comfortable for them. Discover the 5 Phases that many coaches go through as their coaching philosophy and career evolves over time - and see which phase you are in right now.

GLUE GUYS AND GALS: Your Critical Connectors to Championships

Who are your team’s Glue Guys/Gals?

Glue Guys and Gals are the essential, yet often behind the scenes difference makers for your program who keep your team together and moving in the right direction. These unsung heroes do so many of the little things that often go unnoticed and underappreciated by the average fan, yet coaches know are absolutely critical to success.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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...

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.

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 30 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 and Fordham, shares four strategies for building up and training your team leaders he calls "Talk It, Support It, Own It, and Enforce It."

Culture Wins: 5 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™.

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.

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.

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.


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