Every Sports Organization Needs a Working Compass

What would happen if tomorrow morning you awoke to find you were tasked with putting together a brand-new sports organization?

Would your mind quickly jump to the type of talent you have always dreamed of working with? Perhaps you might spend a lot of time thinking about the kind of facility you would like to have. Certainly, deciding on the brand of equipment that you hope to purchase would enter your mind.

While these are all important elements to consider, none of them determines the direction the program will take, quite like your core values. In fact, your core values are like a reliable compass that always points due north – they will direct every decision and every step along the way to building a successful program.

Here are three important facets of your values “compass” to consider:

Identify Core Values and Choose to Always be Authentic

What is most important to you in regards to a sports program? Is it giving 100% effort – every single time? Could it be that being positive, encouraging, and uplifting is your sweet spot? Maybe commitment to team goals trumps any individual goals, or perhaps respect towards opponents is the most important non-negotiable for you.

Whatever they might be, identify 4 or 5 core values and use these to filter all important decisions. This critical step shapes the direction in which your sports organization will go.

Additionally, as the leader of the program, it is your responsibility to choose core values that are true to who you are. Authenticity is key to follow-through.

Practical steps: Ask yourself these questions to help identify core values important to you.

If winning is taken out of the equation...

  • What do you want the kids to have learned by the end of the season?
  • What do you hope the kids will come to love about sports?
  • What legacy would you like them to leave for future athletes?

The answer to questions like these will point to what you naturally hold dear, and will help you build the framework around your core values.

Declare the Core Values to Everyone

 After determining which core values are going to be foundational to your program, you need to shout them from the rooftops.

Why is this important?

When you are vocal about the core components of the program, parents, staff, athletes – and even spectators – are given the opportunity to come around and embrace everything that is important to the team. Winning is no longer the only focus.

What is the best way to make this happen?

Use every communication vehicle available to you. This will look different depending on the sport and/or resources you have.

Practical Ideas: Make sure the core values are visible to everyone who comes in contact with the team.

  • Hang posters with the key message, mission statement and/or values you want people to know – in the gym, office, on the fence, locker room etc.
  • Have wallet cards with the core values printed on them to hand out to staff and/or supporters.
  • Include a mission statement in your email signature block.
  • Communicate throughout the season in coaches’ and/or staff meetings.

Be proud of the values that shape your program and watch as support for them grows.

Being in Sync with Core Values is a Priority When Hiring

 Past job experiences can be a compelling “wow” factor when looking to hire a new coach. However, the excitement comes to a screeching halt when reality hits and you realize you are not on the same page with regards to values.

Careful consideration during the interviewing process is crucial because typically candidates are in a selling mode. Just as resumes may not be an accurate picture of who someone really is, interviews may not reveal everything you need to know about a potential coach.

Things to Consider: Here are three areas to investigate before hiring – and in this order.

  • Does the candidate fit the culture of the program? Do they believe in your values? You might ask them the same questions you asked yourself (in the first section) to identify core values.
  • What is their genuine view of work? Everyone has a mindset when it comes to working and it is not always reflected in their core values. Be sure to ask questions that require them to share a past behavior in a specific scenario. For example, you might ask... Tell me about a time that you did not enjoy a particular task but found creative ways to get it done well.
  • How closely do their skill sets match what will be needed in this new position? The best way to accurately assess this is by looking at what they have had to do in past coaching positions.

Inevitably, candidates may not get an A+ in each of those areas. However, being in sync with your core values is a critical component to a successful fit and needs to be weighed heavily.

Final Thoughts for Sports Organizations

Blending the many different components and personalities that go into a sports program is made easier when the direction is filtered through a defined set of core values. When these values are authentically held by you as the leader and embraced by your staff and supporters, the rate of success goes up exponentially.

Everything Growing Champions For Life does is to help sports organizations create the most positive learning environment for athletes, parents, and coaches. I have shared our strategies with stakeholders in many sports. If you are interested in learning more about our in-person seminars and workshops, webinar series or online learning program, I would love to hear from you.

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