By Shaleek Blackburn
When creating a team culture, says Jim Kunau, Leadership and Administration and Sports Ethics assistant professor of the Masters of Coaching and Athletic Administration (MCAA) program at Concordia University Irvine, the coach’s perspective is the starting point.
“Perspective is vital because it motivates us to action,” says Kunau. “And what motivates us to action usually determines how we seek to propel others to action.” For most coaches, Kunau says, perspective usually falls into one of two categories: those who see athletics as a vehicle for cultivating and celebrating virtues in young people - where excellence and character development are paramount, or those who see their sport as an end in itself, with the pinnacle being hanging championship banners from the rafters. Once that perspective is identified, says Kunau, a coach’s culture is formed by his purpose, which is comprised of a shared vision and the formulation of a galvanizing mission.
The next step in creating a positive, purposeful culture is for coaches to establish their core prioritized operating values. “They will serve as the guidelines and road map for your journey toward fulfilling your particular purpose,” says Kunau. Then and only then, he says, can coaches begin to integrate their culture by emphasizing and evangelizing the components to their staff and student athletes. “It’s important to bear in mind that athletics don’t build character effectively unless the coach possesses it and intentionally teaches it,” says Kunau. “Virtuous coaches with a healthy perspective seek to build a culture that blends the body, mind, heart and soul in the pursuit of ‘Championship Team Excellence’.”
“A coach’s job is to make sure that they are cultivating healthy virtues and creating not only a challenging experience that fosters team excellence, but one that’s rooted in the great concern for the health and long term well-being of the athlete,” Kunau says. Climate – the values and behaviors you stress in your culture, such as competition, unselfishness, unity or service – is equally important, Kunau notes. A great way to reinforce both culture and climate: skip the multitude of rules and highlight high standards instead. “Setting high standards for what it means to be a championship human being becomes extremely motivating in helping your players to reach noble standards."
3 Tips For Creating A Successful Team Culture and Climate
Create an atmosphere that fortifies through positive feedback, a strong work ethic and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the good of the team.
Establish a clear vision and mission; share it, spread it and talk about it with your staff, players and their parents.
Work on Your Core
Determine what your core, prioritized operating values will be and stick to them.
The Name Of The Game: Respect
Pay Attention To Your Players