6 Leadership Lessons from the Razorback Leadership Academy

by Jeff Janssen, Janssen Sports Leadership Center

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.

Arkansas Softball - Feed the Positive Hog

Arkansas Softball has taken to heart a story about two dogs. As the story goes:

A Cherokee elder was teaching his grandchildren about life… He said to them, “A fight is going on inside me, it is a terrible fight and it is between two dogs. One dog is evil - he is fearful angry, jealous, and negative. The other is good - he is happy, peaceful, positive, and content. The grandchildren thought about it for a minute, and then one asked his grandfather, “Which dog will win, Grandfather?”

The Elder smiled and replied, “Whichever dog you feed.”

The moral of the story obviously is to choose to feed your mind a steady diet of positive and productive thoughts instead of the negative and destructive ones that often are starving for your attention.

To emphasize this positive approach and put a Razorback twist to it, Arkansas softball coach Mike Larabee has painted the words “Feed the Positive Hog” on their dugout wall. He also made silicon bracelets with the mantra on it for everyone to wear.

How can you too use stories that convey and reinforce key messages to your team?

Leadership Academy Leadership Team Meeting

With the crazy schedules of student-athletes and coaches, we often have our various leadership groups meet at different times throughout the day that best fit their schedules. However, in the fall we brought all the various groups (Emerging Leaders, Veteran Leaders, Leadership 360 and Coaches) together to do a combined Leadership Team Meeting. The workshop gave everyone a chance  to get on the same page and rate the team’s commitment using our popular Commitment Continuum™ (which I am currently working on an exciting new Commitment Continuum™ System that will be available in April). Check out the comments from the video below and think about how you too can tap into the collective power of all the leadership groups in your program.


Arkansas Baseball - Stages and Ages of Program Building

Arkansas baseball coach Dave Van Horn has been a huge supporter of the Razorback Leadership Academy. Not only does he have a lot of his guys involved in the program, he, along with his stellar coaching staff, also regularly attend the workshops.

One of Coach Van Horn’s many insightful comments came on a recent discussion of stages of a program’s development. We were discussing how teams evolve from Underdogs to Breakthrough teams to Top Dawgs. Coach Van Horn noticed that this progression typically occurs over a coach’s career. He said, “Coaches are typically in their 30’s when they have an Underdog team, their 40’s as a Breakthrough team, and their 50’s with a Top Dawg team.”

As I look at the stages of programs and the ages of head coaches, this is so often true. Usually coaches are busy paying their dues as a young coach trying to build a winning program in their 30’s. Once they get a program on solid footing, they usually spend their 40’s trying to build up the program so it can consistently Breakthrough to the highest levels of the conference, state, or nation. And finally in their 50’s most head coaches hope to have established a strong Top Dawg program that consistently competes for conference and national championships on a regular basis.

Consider your current age and stage of where you are in your journey of building a program. Are you ahead of the curve or behind it in comparison to Coach Van Horn’s astute 30’s, 40’s, 50’s observation?


Our Championship Coaches Network.com members can click here for 3 more Leadership Lessons from the Razorback Leadership Academy.



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