Sunday, April 15, 2007

Sports and Leadership II

Yesterday we looked at a quote from Avery Johnson. Today's offering comes to us from the University of North Texas Head Football Coach, Todd Dodge. In the most recent alumni newsletter, he had this to say about his initial talk with the team, "When I first sat down with the players I told them that I assumed everyone in here wants to be a part of a championship team. If the don't, then we need to sit down individually and see what it is they're here for."

While the corporate world does not have championships per se, the theme of being the best is still applicable. I put forth the goal for my teams to be World Class Software Development Teams. Being "world class" is something that you see everywhere. I was at Tuxedo Junction yesterday getting measured for an upcoming black tie event. While I was waiting on the attendant to enter all of my information into the computer, I glanced at the wall and found their mission statement. They strive to "provide World Class service" to their customers. It really comes down to a couple of things: strive to do your best and continuously look for ways to improve.

Just like Coach Dodge, I assume that the people on my team want to be a part of a World Class Software Development Team. In the airline industry, there is no time to waste. The landscape is fraught with high competition and slim margins (and these are being eaten away by the rising cost of jet fuel). You may be familiar with the DING! desktop product from Southwest. I can remember during the initial project to bring DING! to life, we had a high sense of urgency in completing the work because when it comes to the desktop, Ricky Bobby said it best, "If you ain't first, you're last."

There was no room for people who were looking to coast until retirement or enjoy a country club type atmosphere where having fun takes precedence over getting work done. It was a large team effort, and everyone had to be committed to seeing the project through to completion. That's what it means to "be a part of a championship team".

So you may be thinking that it's great for a coach or manager to aspire to such things, but why should their teams buy in to their vision? Coach Dodge is certainly qualified to speak this way with the 79-1 record that he posted over the last five years at Southlake Carroll High School. In addition, the Mean Green has won their conference championship in 2001-2004. It definitely helps if at least one side or the other has experienced success. That's not to say that if neither has done it before that you are doomed. It is a steeper hill to climb though.

Until next time...

No comments: