Calipari Takes the Blame

Last week I featured an article from the New York Times about Kentucky basketball in which Calipari takes the blame for his team’s mediocre season. I was impressed by the coaching tactic of accepting responsibility for the team’s troubles.

But curious about his prediction that if they won the next game all would be solved.

It seemed too easy.

They did indeed win the next game. But then they lost the first round of the SEC tournament to Vanderbilt.

Today they were not included in the NCAA tournament. Last year they won it all.

Calipari takes the blame

On another note, you have to be impressed with Miami’s Jim Larranaga, who has only been at the school two years, but was voted ACC Coach of the Year and led his team to an ACC Tournament championship.

He gets his teams focused and prepared:

“This league is so good, that your next opponent is always very, very good, so you have no choice but to stay focused,” Larranaga said. “If we worry about our win streak or rankings, or gloat on our last victories, our minds won’t be focused on the present task. So far, we’ve been very focused no matter if we’ve been home or away, and that makes coaches very happy.”

They are a number 2 seed in the NCAA tournament and on a path to meet Indiana should both teams play as predicted.



Focus on the Road

Advice to CEOs

advice to ceos applicable to coaches Storm Crypt via Compfight

Ben Horowitz partner at Andreesen Horowitz and author of “Ben’s Blog” offers some advice to CEOs dealing with the loneliness and pain of running their company’s.  Much of it seems applicable to coaches.

Here are his solutions, but the description of problems and how they develop is also well worth the read.

“Techniques to Calm Your Nerves

The problem with psychology is that everybody’s is slightly different. With that as a caveat, over the years I developed a few techniques for dealing with myself. Hopefully, you find them useful too.

Make some friends—Although it’s nearly impossible to get high quality advice on the tough decisions that you make, it is extremely useful from a psychological perspective to talk to people who have been through similarly challenging decisions. My friend Bill Campbell was a huge help to me as CEO, but interestingly it wasn’t his great success running Intuit that I found most useful; it was his disastrous experience running Go. Through that experience and his most traumatic days at Intuit (like laying off 1/3 of the company), Bill learned a tremendous amount about how to think about excruciatingly difficult decisions from a psychological perspective.

Get it out of your head and onto paper—When I had to explain to Bill and the rest of my board that, as a public company, I thought that it would be best if we sold all of our customers and all of our revenue and changed business, it was messing with my mind. In order to finalize that decision, I wrote down a detailed explanation of my logic. The process of writing that document separated me from my own psychology and enabled me to make the decision swiftly.

Focus on the road not the wall—When they train race car drivers, one of the first lessons is when you are going around a curve at 200 MPH, do not focus on the wall; focus on the road. If you focus on the wall, you will drive right into it. If you focus on the road, you will follow the road. Running a company is like that. There are always a thousand things that can go wrong and sink the ship. If you focus too much on them, you will drive yourself nuts and likely capsize your company. Focus on where you are going rather than on what you hope to avoid.”

That’s good advice for CEOs. What are your techniques for calming the nerves and staying the course?


Leadership from a Player’s Perspective

Grammatically Incorrect T-Shirt Michael Li via Compfight

“To me teamwork is the beauty of our sport, where you have five acting as one. You become selfless.” Coach K

Chiney Ogwumike dissectsthe various aspects of floor leadership while writing a blog at ESPNW about her Stanford team’s recent Pac-12 Title.

“Even though I could never admit it out loud, in my head I always wondered if I could ever be that instrumental leader for our team that she was. Our Pac-12 tournament championship game taught me, you do not assume leadership … you attack it! You embrace it! You share it!”

But, not every night is your night as a leader. In this game she needed to learn how to share the ball and the responsibility of winning with her team. Credit to the great coach Tara Vandeveer for guiding her there.

I took my last shot toward the end of the second half, and immediately after, during a timeout, Coach Tara told me, “Chiney, you cannot do this by yourself.” A big part of leadership is being able to let go, for the right reasons. No offense to the Mamba, but I could have gone all Kobe, forcing things to the point of no return (hey sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t).

But again in all seriousness, I learned in that moment that leadership is shared in moments of adversity. The ball most rightfully deserved to be in Amber’s hands. She was having her best night. We trusted in her playmaking abilities … and she delivered. Amber had a momentous steal and the game-winning layup!”

The whole post is up at ESPNW. You can read it here.

Is the “Sandwich Method” Effective?

Dr Maria Gottschalk offers up a critique of the “sandwich method” of providing feedback on Linkedin today.

A couple highlights:

  •  “We sorely need the positives. We should all be allowed to absorb what we are doing right at work. That’s not possible when the information about our successes is delivered in conjunction with the things we need to improve upon.”
  • “Building resiliency. Ultimately, performance management should never become a once a year – “live or die” process.
  • Provide positive feedback concerning small successes along the way to provide balance – this will help difficult information become easier to process.”

The entire article is worth the read.

Calipari Took the Blame

Calipari took the blame Tennessee Journalist via Compfight

Kentucky men’s basketball has been going through a mediocre season by their own tradition and standards. Last week Coach John Calipari took the blame for Kentucky’s woes this year.

“The dismantling, for the time being, of Kentucky Coach John Calipari’s mystique came in a well-lighted hallway inside Georgia’s Stegeman Coliseum on Thursday night. The scene resembled a politician offering a mea culpa at a news conference, except this was a basketball coach acknowledging he had squandered talent.

I am so disappointed in the job I have done with this team,” Calipari said after a 72-62 loss at Georgia. “I’ve done this 20-some years. I’ve never had a team not cohesive this time of the year.”

He went on: “Every one of them had a fight. If this team doesn’t have that, that’s on me. I’m disappointed in myself more than I am them.”

This is just one year after Kentucky won the men’s NCAA basketball championship.

The article goes on,

“Asked what he told his team after Thursday’s loss at Georgia, Calipari said, “Beat Florida and this all goes away.”

On Saturday they did just that.  It will be interesting to see if Calipari is correct and the team’s inconsistency does “all go away.”

Be a Magnet: Work Culture

Magnet photo

Forbes takes a look at the recent decision by Yahoo to end their work from home programs and mandate that all employees now work out of the office.  The article brings up an interesting point for coaches and their teams. Do you mandate behavior or can you create an atmosphere that people voluntarily want to belong to and participate in? In other words, are your policies a magnet for great people or do you need to mandate?

“Rather than attempting to spur communication and collaboration by fiat, Yahoo would be wiser to concentrate on creating an atmosphere that acts as a magnet: that gives its workers the flexibility in their work arrangements that they crave, but that pulls them into the office as much as possible by providing them a strong sense of meaning, satisfaction and joy….

In short, employees shouldn’t go into the office because they have to; they should go because they want to.

“The funny thing is, Yahoo may be building just that kind of spirit. As the company’s financial performance has started to turn around, what’s emerged is what Reses describes as “positive momentum.” “From Sunnyvale to Santa Monica, Bangalore to Beijing—I think we can all feel the energy and buzz in our offices,” she says.

What a shame if a misguided mandate becomes a buzzkill.”