I have several strong beliefs around coaching, but one specific to basketball that I refuse to stray away from is this: never play a player that is unwilling to take a charge.
For those not familiar with basketball, a charge occurs when a defensive player places their body in front of an offensive player creating contact and resulting in an offensive foul, which results in the defending team being awarded the ball.
In basketball, charges can change the momentum of a game. A charge often erases an easy two points from the offensive team, contributes a foul to the offending player, and moves the opposing team one foul closer to the bonus where they will be awarded free throws.
On the surface, it appears similar to any other foul in a basketball game, but it’s much more than that.
Why Should We Care? A charge is a glimpse into the heart.
I’ve never coached a player willing to take a charge that did not prioritize the team over themselves. The act of sacrificing one’s body, and potential physical discomfort or harm, for the good of the team; is a clear act of servanthood. Players willing to take a charge for the good of the team are special. But, a ‘willingness’ to take a charge isn’t enough.
Now, a player with the ‘desire’ to take a charge is different. ‘Willing’ players do it when the opportunity arises. Players with a ‘desire’ to serve their team, seek opportunities. They don’t wait for the opportunity to come their way, they search for it then pursue it. Most players on a team are willing. Our job as leaders is to help stoke that willingness into a desire.
Players that ‘desire’ to serve their teammates are different. They unite the group and galvanize unselfishness within the ranks.
This brings us to two important questions for leaders:
What is your “charge”?
Who has a “desire” to do it?
REAL TALK - Action Steps Every program, or team, has beliefs that are core to their existence. However, in order for the beliefs to become the true identity of the team, those beliefs must be translated into behaviors and actions. In teams with a strong culture, there are likely several behaviors that apply to each specific belief. But, connection of the belief to the behavior must be an intentional act of a leader.
Here are a few questions to help you identify your key beliefs and behaviors.
You overhear a group of people talking about your team at a local restaurant. What do you most want to hear them saying?
The answer to this question is likely to require considerable reflection and possibly discussion with your team. Ideally the responses will be connected closely to your purpose or core values. The response should also be limited. If everything is important, then nothing is.
What do the things you desire to hear look like in action?
What are specific behaviors that exemplify the desired result you seek? These should be very clear, even simple, behaviors - smiling as you pass a co-worker, what is said when you answer the phone, or how meetings are started.
How can you connect these for your team?
This step is important, yet often omitted with the assumption of understanding. Signage and consistent, clear communication is vital. Find something that creates an image for your team. Don’t relegate your communication to only your words. If you happen to get to the point of thinking you’ve said it enough, you haven’t. This direction is clear - you can’t over communicate when it comes to your values and beliefs.
What does your team’s actions say? If we aren’t intentional about aligning our beliefs, our actions, and our communication we should not be surprised by the gap in our culture this hole creates.
For more information on building excellence in your teams, visit us at www.bluecollargrit.com. We would love to know how we could help!