Leading Blog






03.07.08

Inspiring the Will of the Team

General W. Wallace
Earlier this year, General William S. Wallace, Commander, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, delivered a speech to the U.S. Army All-American Bowl Coaches Academy Breakfast in San Antonio, Texas. He spoke about the influence that leaders and coaches have on the teams they lead. Here are a few excerpts:

The ability to inspire and make a difference in a young person’s life is an awesome responsibility. Good coaching brings out the very best in both players and coaches. Coaches, like Army Drill Sergeants, teach a lot more than just skills and tactics, they teach determination, discipline, and character, both in and out of uniform.

Coaches and military commanders face a similar prospect; how do you develop and maintain a winning organization year in and year out, when the capabilities and competence of your “bench” and the cohesion of your unit are constantly in flux?

To develop formative training and innovative leaders you have to instill a “Warrior’s Spirit” in your players. And to cultivate a “Warrior’s Spirit”, you must first establish the core identity, direction and doctrine for your organization.

But the development of a “Warrior Ethos” is not a goal line or battlefield revelation.

It is a principled work ethic that builds mental stamina as well as physical prowess. Coaching character is as much, if not more, about the will of the coach as it is about the will and the work of the athlete. The “will of the Coach”, I like that. It emphasizes that the onus for results resides with the one who leads, who teaches, and who sets standards for the unit.

As combat and football are both human endeavors, there exist some very real and decisive elements to these contests of wills that dramatically affect their conduct and outcome. “Shifts in momentum,” “seizing the initiative,” “fan base and fanaticism,” “national will,” “officiating,” “media bias,” “play making,” “pressure,” “injuries” and “leadership;” are all indisputable and unpredictable aspects of these activities.

How do you develop that elusive “something” that soldiers and players draw on at “crunch time?” It is the character of the leader and the character of the organization that inspires loyalty across the formation, musters the reserves and evokes a “Warrior’s Ethos:”
  • I will always place the mission first
  • I will never accept defeat
  • I will never quit
  • I will never leave a fallen comrade
Coaching character is about demonstrating and developing the internal fortitude, mental toughness, confidence and conviction that only comes through shared goals, shared pain, shared fortune and shared values. Stirring the warrior’s spirit is an all or nothing proposition. You can’t half-step Trust or Integrity.

In football as in combat—to win the day, you’ve got to win the moment, and when that moment arrives it’s the character of the man, the character of the team and the character of the coach that will decide the contest.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 01:16 PM
| Comments (0) | This post is about Teamwork



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