• Bill Greider

2 Leadership Ideas from Duke Lacrosse

As you know, there is a direct correlation between success in business and success in SPORT. Business has less to do with what you make or do than the quality of your relationships....with customers, employees, suppliers, investors, etc. The stronger those relationships, the better the win-loss record. One of the 4 basic principles of the Toyota Production System is to "continuously develop your people and partners."

This post is about a couple of leadership tips I learned from current Duke University Men's Lacrosse Head Coach John Danowski. Coach Danowski found himself thrust into the position of rebuilding the program in 2007. He has led the Blue Devils to 3 National Championships (2010, 2013 & 2014) and his team is a fixture in the Final Four.

Coach Danowski epitomizes the concept of teacher as coach. I've had the chance to meet and hear coach speak on a few occasions at the U.S. Lacrosse National Convention, and there are 2 ideas I believe are worth consideration and somehow working into your leadership game plan.

First, the 3 second rule-I think I will call this "emotional heijunka (level loading)"-there is a rule on the Duke lacrosse team that is introduced the first time a freshman shows up for his first practice. When you do something exciting, like score a goal, make an assist or pick up a big ground ball, celebrate. For 3 seconds. Then move on. When you make a mistake, like a turnover or allow a goal, feel bad. For 3 seconds. Any longer than 3 seconds in either case is considered selfish behavior, against the best interest of the team. As a college football official with 35 years experience, I can testify that the best football teams are the ones that are never overly emotional (good or bad), and are led by coaches that are the same way. Show me a coach (or players) who rants and raves and screams and yells, and I'll usually show you a 2-10 football team. Studies show that major league hitters who can practice this 3 second rule more often follow up a good or bad result (home run or strike out) with a good result than hitters who slam their bat, put their head down, etc. Can you build this steady-Eddie emotional heijunka into your own business? Can we learn quickly from our success and our problems, get to root cause, implement countermeasures and move forward?  Our problems of today need not (and better not) impact tomorrow's results!

Second, optimize the talents of every single player- I don't need to be a great coach to motivate and develop the stars. I earn my paycheck by motivating and developing the non-stars...the last draft pick. Coach Danowski awards a non-scholarship ("walk on") player each season the title of CAPTAIN. Even though this player may not actually get into every game, it is always a player who understands his role on the team and works harder than everyone in practice, helping to prepare the stars for their next game. Coach also videotapes the bench (the players on the sideline who may not get in) during games, because Duke lacrosse believes that in order to win, they need every single human on the roster to contribute. How does this apply to your business? How about the creativity and talent of the people on 3rd shift, or the well being of the summer intern?

Winning teams don't focus on the scoreboard. Develop your people and partners, and the scoreboard takes care of itself!

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