Category Archives: motivation

7 Leadership Lessons from Geno Auriemma

Bill with Auriemma

Leadership Consultant Bill Morosco with UConn women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma.

By Bill Morosco (Florida)

University of Connecticut women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma has won over 800 games at the college level – eight National Championships and fourteen Final Four appearances. Though Coach Auriemma is most known for motivational and recruiting skills, his success on building championship teams has also relied on his talent for teaching his players to be leaders.

I had the opportunity to meet and learn from the legendary University of Connecticut coach earlier this spring at the Nike Championship Basketball Clinic in Chicago. While the clinic focused on the fundamentals of coaching basketball, the sessions also gave me a chance to observe up close how Coach Auriemma teaches leadership and gets the most out of his teams.

Be a People Person. Coach Auriemma said that one of the most important keys to his success is being a people person. You have to understand what motivates each individual person and how to harness that inspiration to get them to do what’s best for the team.

The same holds true for fraternities and other student organizations. All of your members have different strengths and motivations. It is your job as a leader in the chapter to understand your members’ motivation and to cultivate those desires to help them reach their personal goals as well as the chapter’s group goals.

ESPN Sigma Nu logoBe Realistic. Coach Auriemma says “It doesn’t matter how many plays you run if your players can’t shoot. You still won’t score.” You need to understand your situation and limitations and decide what a realistic vision of success looks like. A leader needs to know what his or her team is capable of.

It might be unlikely that your chapter can produce weekly alumni newsletters if your chapter has never created one before. Set goals that will improve your chapter but make sure they are attainable. This will build confidence and keep the chapter moving towards bigger and better things instead of causing frustration and low morale by failing to reach an unrealistic goal.

Treat People Equally. Auriemma believes in treating his players equally. He has his forwards and centers do the same dribbling and shooting drills as his guards to build a more diversified offense and to improve each player’s skill set.

Treating team members equally is important for a fraternity. Give each chapter member/officer the same set of expectations. If a 3.0 GPA is required to be an officer in your chapter, why not make it a requirement to be a general member in good standing? This will help hold your members to a higher yet achievable standard and better improve the entire chapter.

Constant Gentle Pressure. Coach Auriemma described his approach to the yearly development of each of his teams as constant gentle pressure. Similar to Coach Knight, Auriemma ups the ante in every practice, making each session more challenging than the previous one – all while making sure the drills are relevant to the team’s mission to play championship basketball.

“It doesn’t matter how many plays you run if your players can’t shoot. You still won’t score.”

At the chapter level, this concept can be used to get the most out of all officers and committees. If committee deadlines are strictly monitored and constantly enforced, chapter officers will be ready for greatness when it’s time to complete Pursuit of Excellence documentation and award applications.

Do Everything at Game Speed. During practices, Coach Auriemma has his players do every drill with the same speed and intensity that they would do in a game. This increases the focus, effort, intensity and results of each practice and makes the game just as hard if not easier than practice.

Have your officers run their committee meetings just like they would a chapter meeting. This way chapter officers know exactly how to present in chapter and committee members better understand their role in the larger meeting.

Own What You Teach. Auriemma also talks about the flaws in trying to teach things you don’t fully understand. If you don’t fully understand the topic, the first question when adversity hits could derail the entire operation. Become an expert, study and learn how to apply what you want to teach in every situation.

Similarly, if you find an idea you really like in the Best Practices Library, be sure to reach out to the chapter that created it to ask questions to fully understand the material. If your Leadership Consultant brought up a great idea during his visit, follow up with him to get additional advice on implementing the new approach.

Have Contingency Plans. For the NCAA Tournament or other conference tournaments, Coach Auriemma likes to plan as if what he wants to do won’t work. For instance, Auriemma is known for drawing up three different ways to start each play, just in case the first approach doesn’t work.

At some point, something you wanted to do – be it a social, philanthropy, or chapter retreat – won’t work. So always have a backup plan.

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Give your chapter meetings (and chapter culture) a makeover

Here’s a small excerpt from a must-read piece by Martin Lindstrom:

The first thing I do during the course of my change-agent work for Fortune 100 companies is to establish the 4:30 rule. The maximum number of people in any meeting should be four, and meetings should never last any longer than 30 minutes. No phones allowed. You may think this a little radical but, if you want to act entrepreneurial, then these are the most important steps to take.

If you’re able to get the right people into one room over two days, the stage is set. Make sure the room is far from the office and prep everyone on the notion that it’s essential to not only come up with ideas for change, but actually lock them in by the end of the second day. If the incentive is great enough, and everyone’s prepared to roll up their sleeves, in my experience, it will happen.

Do yourself a favor and set aside 5 minutes to read the full story.

How could you apply Lindstrom’s other ideas to your chapter?

Senioritis: searching for the cure

By Nick Claghorn (Indiana)

As of now, most colleges and universities have started the 2011-12 school year, which means thousands of students are in their senior year. You may be one of those seniors and you look back on your college career and see that you’ve accomplished a great amount. Senioritis may kick in (or already has) and you’ll experience a lack of motivation. Don’t let this be the death of you as an active fraternity member – there’s still plenty for you to do!

Thanks to my graduate professor, I have been introduced to a theory called the ‘Equity Theory’ which states that ‘individuals think about what they put in to the organization and then think about what they receive in return’ – pretty simple. The more you give, the more you receive. However, common sense would tell us that this is not always the case.

In the fraternity, there is a democratic society of executive board members and committees. The group decides what is best for themselves by establishing order and fairness, and the votes go as the company/organization go. If it goes well, you create an environment conducive to ample opportunities for organizational (and personal!) growth. Here’s where I believe motivation can be the most successful. I’ll go over motivation by discussing three common myths about motivation:

Myth #1: “I can motivate people”

–Not really.  People have to motivate themselves.  An organization can set up an environment where motivation produces positive results for the fraternity member. Many seniors slack on their influence because they believe that they’ve put in all the effort they can during their time as a chapter member. One of the reasons they may think like that is because they don’t see the return value for them because they’ll be out of school in a few months anyways. Younger members look to the senior members, see their apathy, and reflect it in their treatment of the organization. If you, as a senior, find yourself in this situation, remind yourself that this is a lifetime commitment to Sigma Nu and that the rewards will continue past your student years.

Myth #2: “Fear is a damn good motivator”

–Fear can be a great motivator for a short period of time. ‘Can be’ and ‘short’ are two fragments in the last sentence that tell the tale. Putting fear into someone to complete a task or assignment will not produce results for worthy, established chapters in the long-run.

Myth #3: “I know what motivates me, so I know what motivates my [chapter brothers].”

–Different people are motivated by different things. Not everyone moves at the same pace or creates the same opportunities for themselves, but, according to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, everyone is motivated by the same five categories of needs!

  1. Physiological: Need for water, food, and air
  2. Safety: Need to be safe from harm
  3. Social: Need for friendship and acceptance
  4. Esteem: Need for recognition and respect
  5. Self-actualization: Need to maximize one’s potential

Numbers 1 and 2 are almost 100% the same for every individual and it is believed that necessary fulfillment of these needs must come first in order to satisfy the remaining needs. It is numbers 3, 4, and 5 that compound the complexity of the human character.

You, as a senior, have seen the ups and downs of the chapter throughout your time as a collegiate member and may be the best person in your chapter to identify what needs are not being met.

We normally achieve high levels of positive social need through Sigma Nu but not everyone experiences it the same. Are there members who may be struggling in this area? Have you tried to help?

The fraternity provides opportunities for organizational achievement and recognition, which can positively influence respect. Is your chapter recognizing the outstanding performers?

And self-actualization deals internally within the individual. He must recognize that he can achieve better and, by doing so, will strive to make himself (and others around him) better.

Your chapter stands by the same values as all the others: Love, Honor, and Truth. Motivating your chapter to get the most out of your fellow members may be the most rewarding – and challenging – task you will attempt in your young life. By doing so, you may satisfy your own need for recognition and respect, as well and realizing that you are maximizing your own potential.