Archive for March, 2010

Coach Like a Girl

Moronic Little League and high school coaches have used the phrase, ‘you throw like a girl,’ for decades.

Now, the phrase, ‘you coach like a girl,’ certainly has taken on some emphasis since Natalie Randolph was named head football coach at Calvin Coolidge High School in Washington, D.C.

While many will judge Randolph according to how many games her team wins and loses, high school athletics also include other indicators of success. Randolph will only be successful if she truly coaches like a girl.

Successful female leaders conduct their business in a different way than do male leaders. Not better, not worse. Different. Natalie has to be careful not to attempt to coach like someone she’s not.

I was privileged to interview legendary University of Texas women’s basketball coach Jody Conradt for Final Four Leadership. The quintessential southern lady bristled when I asked her about the difference between female leaders and male leaders.

Conradt explained that what often happens to a female when she earns a leadership role, be it in the boardroom, the courtroom or the operating room, the female believes that she has to assimilate the mannerisms of her male counterparts. This often causes the female leader to move away from her strengths in a subconscious attempt to pacify the men in her company. This defeats the purpose of hiring the female in the first place.

Authenticity, then, is the most important characteristic to which Randolph can adhere. She needs to be the same person on the football field as she is in the classroom. She can’t treat her students one way from 8:00 – 3:00, and then pretend to be Nick Saban from 4:00 – 6:00 and on Friday nights.

People in general, and kids more astutely, can detect a phony from a mile away. If Randolph doesn’t stay true to herself, it will undermine her ability to lead those young men. Randolph’s knowledge of intricate offensive schemes and defensive deception won’t matter at all if the boys believe she’s a faker.

Having coached girls’ youth sports for 13 years, I’ve discovered that your players don’t really care how much you know unless they know how much you care.

Another intangible that Randolph needs is an awesome ‘buddy system.’ One female fault my research uncovered is that when women do achieve the corner office, they often forget to share their experiences with their female colleagues who are still working their way up the ladder.

Randolph needs successful female leaders, like Maryland basketball coach Brenda Frese, as well as successful businesswomen, lawyers, doctors, etc. to reach out and let Randolph know they’re happy to be a sounding board or an outlet to vent frustrations.

Finally, Randolph needs to assemble a strong group of assistant coaches. She needs to be comfortable with the fact that she can’t do it all and she can’t know it all. She needs to assemble a staff that compliments her strengths and fills in the gaps.

Randolph has demonstrated she’s got what it takes to get the job. She just needs her players to know that if she tells them, ‘you throw like a girl,’ that might not necessarily be a bad thing.

David F. Salter is the author of Final Four Leadership: 5 Secrets Successful Female Leaders Use and You Should Too.

Posted by on March 23rd, 2010 No Comments

Chemistry Lesson

Even though the Nebraska women’s basketball team saw their unbeaten streak demolished Saturday in the semifinals of the Big 12 post-season tournament, the Lady Huskers success this season is directly attributable to chemistry. No, not the kind students might think of, in the classroom with Bunsen burners flaming and odd combinations of liquids boiling in glass beakers.

The chemistry I’m talking about, as discussed in Final Four Leadership, is the type of intangible connections made between people in a department, on a team or in a group of friends that allows that group of people to transcend the expectations and goals outsiders might place on that group.

Head coach Connie Yori has been on campus since 2002-2003, and last year’s 15-16 record was the only losing season in her tenure in Lincoln. Part of that outcome was the fact that 2010 Big 12 Player of the Year Kelsey Griffin missed the entire season with an injury. But this year’s 30-1 team, that should earn a #1 seed in the upcoming NCAA tournament, is more about the whole group than it is about one player. Everyone on the team has a role, and Yori uses her bench liberally. Everyone on the team understands that she has an important job to do to help the team, and nobody cares who gets the credit, especially Griffin who not only leads the team in scoring but also in offensive fouls taken on defense.

The best way to sum this up is by showing a couple of comments opposing coaches have made of the Huskers.

“I lover her team,” said Oklahoma State coach Kurt Budke. Notice he didn’t say I love Kelsey Griffin.

Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale, herself a Final Four coach, said it with a little more thought. “You watch them (on film) be good together, and it ceases to be about those individual players, who are so very good in their own right. It becomes about how good they are together. And I think that’s been their magic.”

I’m attaching here an Mp3 of an interview I did this week on Dresser After Dark, which is syndicated on Lifetime radio. Enjoy. David Salter

Posted by on March 14th, 2010 No Comments

Tough Decisions Part of Leadership

Brittney Griner is a freshman phenom on the Baylor University women’s basketball team. Unfortunately, she made a critical mistake Wednesday night when she lost her cool and punched an opposing Texas Tech player, breaking that player’s nose.

Having spent some time, in person, with Griner’s coach, Kim Mulkey, when I interviewed her for my book Final Four Leadership, I expected the punishment to be quick and severe. It was quick, but certainly not the punishment I was expecting. Griner was suspended for one game, the regular season finale against Texas, by the university, and one additional game as mandated by NCAA rules. A two-game suspension doesn’t send the type of message that needs to be sent in this instance. Baylor is nationally ranked, and most likely gets a berth in the NCAA tournament regardless of what happens to them in the Big 12 tournament this week.

For so long now, women in sports, and I would say women in every professional pursuit, want to be compared to men in a favorable way – equal pay for equal work, an equal amount of seats at the boardroom table, equal representation in management, and the list could go on.

In September, in the first game of the college football season, a player from the University of Oregon cold-cocked an opposing player from Boise State during post-game handshakes. That player was suspended for the remainder of the season, only to be made eligible to participate in the team’s bowl game. Considering that while the football season is long in terms of months, they only play 11 games, that was a pretty stiff sentence. In college basketball, teams can play close to 30 games depending upon post-season success. Again, a two-game suspension for Griner’s action hardly seems to match the incident.

As I have over the past couple seasons, I’ve watched the teams of the coaches that I interviewed for the book whenever they are on my television. I’ve seen Baylor play several times, and Griner exhibits the type of behavior that I wouldn’t want to see my own daughter demonstrate on the court. She hovers over opponents when they’re on the floor in a taunting manner, she thumps her chest enough to cause damage to herself, and she is more demonstrative than I thought Mulkey would allow a player to be. I don’t know Brittney Griner and have never spent any time with her. I don’t know what kind of kid she is. I only know what I see on the television screen. Some athletes are different personalities on and off the court, so if Mulkey says, as she did in her statement regarding the punishment, that Griner is a great kid, then I’ll have to take her word for it. Griner’s actions, however, depict a different scenario.

One of the more difficult characteristics of leadership is the ability to make difficult decisions under tough circumstances. I think a stiffer penalty was due in this case in order to send the message to this young lady that she needs to elevate her behavior to match the class that her coach has spent so much time developing in her program. It also would send the message that actions have consequences.

On a side note, I had the great opportunity to be a guest, along with my family, of coach Sylvia Hatchell in Chapel Hill a couple of Sundays ago when the Tar Heels hosted the NC State Wolfpack in a Pink Zone game. The Pink Zone games happened during the month of February, and it’s the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association’s way of elevating awareness for the Kay Yow/WBCA Cancer Fund. It was especially gratifying, since a portion of the proceeds from my book are being donated to the Yow Fund, and it was also pretty cool being a halftime guest with Brad Heller on the Tar Heels Sports Network. I’m going to try to link the interview here. Tar Heels Sports Network interview

Posted by on March 6th, 2010 No Comments