When you take over an organization, it’s natural to want to talk about who you are and your core values. You want to explain to your team everything your team will be about. It feels like you can’t repeat the message enough.
I’ve learned that your team really won’t understand your values until you see them in action. Long meetings with dialogue about what you are all about lose their impact quickly. As much as you feel the urge to share your core values and everything you stand for, words won’t have a huge impact. They will figure out who you are and what’s important to you through your actions every day. That is where you should focus.
We used the phrase “Win Anyway” as a way of illustrating our no excuses approach. The point was that no one cared about whatever adversity we may face. It was about the bottom line, getting the job done, regardless of what happened around us. I used to talk about that to my teams all of the time – Win Anyway. No excuses. That would be a big part of our core value of toughness.
But it struck me that those conversations lost energy pretty quickly. OK, coach, we’ve heard that before. Got it. They had heard what I said, and they weren’t ignoring it, but it wasn’t really resonating. When we got on the floor and something happened, and they head me talk about it – that’s when it started to sink in. If someone thought they got fouled in practice but it wasn’t called, they’d hear me say “Win Anyway.” OK, you think you got fouled, you didn’t get the call, what are you going to do about it? Somebody is going to win this drill, either you or them. How are you going to respond?
The message was so much more effective when they saw it in action and there was behavior connected to it. I could literally see the response on the floor, the determination to take what I had said and put it into action. I quickly realized that all the time I spent preaching to my team, especially when I first took over, wasn’t nearly as effective.
I realize the pull you feel when you first take over to deliver a great message and to clearly define your core values. But the longer you stand in front of your team talking at them, the less impact you will have on them. Deliver your message with action, and let it happen naturally. Your team will start to believe in your values over time, it won’t happen overnight. It happens when they see those values turn into action, when it becomes behavior.
What you do is much more important than what you say. Deliver the message with who you are every day.