Wednesday, September 7, 2016


I got to know Don Yaeger while working for Dale Brown at LSU.  Don spent an entire year around our program and the best thing I can say about him is that he gets it.  He has a great understanding of the human element as it equates to athletics and he understands what goes into successful programs.  It's why I am always anticipating his next book.  This summer he may have topped himself with "Great Teams: 16 Things High-Performing Organizations Do Differently."

I'm going to share a few highlights from the book but if you are involved with any group that you are trying to force as a team, to help an organization achieve it's maximum potential, you're going to want to get a copy of this book!

Chapter 1
Great Teams Understand Their "Why"
"You can try to tell people why what they do matters.  You can try to show them.  But people get what it means when they can feel it."
-Mike Krzyzewski.

"Culture must be reminded everyday. The history gives us a starting point to learn from the past, produce in the present and prepare for the future."
-Kevin Eastman

Chapter 2
Great Teams Have And Develop Great Leaders
"Part of being a leader is getting to know your players."
-Anson Doorance

Chapter 3
Great Teams Allow Culture To Shape Recruiting
"Leadership gets what it emphasizes.  When the recruits arrive to campus, there's so much hype in the facilities and the winning.  But we tell them that all of the hype will not be their happiness.  Instead, their happiness will be in the coaches we surround them with and how we treat them in the locker room.  Culture will determine their happiness."
-Chris Peterson

Chapter 4
Great Teams Create And Maintain Depth
"If you don't have someone on your team that's a capable replacement, then you're going to have a hole in the picture of your puzzle."
-Jerry West

Chapter 5
Great Teams Have A Road Map
As a former Alabama offensive coordinator Jim McElwain explained during an ESPN radio interview, Saban "has a vision.  He has a plan.  And yet, I think the thing that keeps him consistent and ahead of the curve, not just football-wise, but everything within the organization -- there's a follow-up, as far as 'What can we do better? What is new out there?  What can we do, you know, to move things forward whether it is offensive, defense, special teams, recruiting, academics, training room," it doesn't matter...What he does is set the vision and then gets great people around him and lets them be creative.

Chapter 6
Great Teams Promote Camaraderie And A Sense Of Collective Direction
St. Louis Cardinals' chairman Bill DeWitt and his management team send a sixty-eight-page book to all new recruits.  The book is packed with historical relevancies, general expectations for a Cardinal player, and specific instructions tailored to that particular player's position.  The information is helpful, but it is the book itself that carries the meaning of "now you're one of us."

Chapter 7
Great Teams Manage Dysfunction, Friction, And Strong Personalities
Great teams understand the reason behind conflict and find ways to rise above it; however, conflict resolution is a skill that must be exercises to be effective.

Chapter 8
Great Teams Build A Mentoring Culture
"In the SEAL teams we figured out very, very early on that specific mentorship of connecting a senior officer to a junior officer has a tremendous value.  It's a fundamental thing that SEAL development looks at.  The minute you stop learning and stop seeking out growth opportunities, you'll begin to rot pretty quickly."
-Rorke Denver

Chapter 9
Great Teams Adjust Quickly To Leadership Transitions
"Change is almost uncomfortable and exhausting.  You are asking your organization to do something in a new way -- every day -- until it's a habit.  The 'old' habits may have taken years to form and were likely linked to rewards to it's normal for individuals and teams to reverse to what's comfortable when difficulties or confusions arise."
-Sharon Price John

Chapter 10
Great Teams Adapt And Embrace Change
"It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive, but those who can best manage change."
-Charles Darwin

"The younger players see the world differently.  And it's up to you as the communicator to know who you are addressing.  Adjustment is hard, but is a lot easier if you, as a leader, are a willing learner."
-Mike Krzyzewski

Chapter 11
Great Teams Run Successful Huddles
Bill Walsh analyzed and even recorded meetings to spot potential lulls and weaknesses in their process.  He wanted to make sure his assistant coaches -- who would sometimes change from year to year -- were teaching his team in a consistent fashion.

Chapter 12
Great Teams Improve Through Scouting
"I think you have to study yourself a lot.  It's important as a quarterback to study yourself, your opponent and be sure you're doing the fundamentals and mechanics right."
-Peyton Manning

Chapter 13
Great Teams See Values Others Miss
Great teams never answer the "why" question with, "Because we've always done it this way."  Instead, they regularly evaluate each situation and seek unique opportunities for improvement.

Chapter 14
Great Teams Win In Critical Situations
Many companies mistake movement for momentum.  By paying employees to work harder, organizations also create an incentive bias when trying to motivate a strong finish.  Paying someone to do more gets movement but not always true motivation.  And teams with higher motivation will always beat teams that only get movement.

Chapter 15
Great Teams Speak A Different Language
Steve Kerr on observing Pete Carroll of the Seattle Seahawks:  "There's no yelling and screaming...there's teaching.  It was liberating to see and had a great influence on me."

"As a leader it is so important to be precise with your language."
-Pete Carroll

Chapter 16
Great Teams Avoid The Pitfalls Of Success
The great John Wooden, whom I have mentioned several times in this book, often said, "Winning takes talent; to repeat takes character."

"How you respond to a mistake is more important than the mistake itself."
-Tim Walton

The appendix in Don's book is 33 pages long with outstanding quotes and concepts from the best in the business and this section alone is worth the cost of the books.  It includes Ganon Baker, Colonel Bernie Banks, Bobby Bowden, Bruce Bowen, Aja Brown, Dale Brown, Jim Calhoun, John Calipari, Pete Carroll, Jack Clark, Jerry Colangelo, Barry Collier, Tom Crean, Randy Cross, Commander Rorke Denver, Bill Dewitt, Jr., Billy Donovan, Anson Dorrance, Kevin Eastman, P. J. Fleck, Willie Gault, China Gorman, G. J. Hart, Sylvia Hatchell, Tom Izzo, Jimmie Johnson, Michael Jordan, Greg Kampe, Steve Kerr, Mike Krzyzewski, Jenn Lim, Archie Manning, Eli Manning, Dan Marino, Mike Martin, Misty May-Treanor, Bill McCermott, Derin McMains, Dayton Moore, Jamie Moyer, Tom Osborne, Chack Pagano, Bob Reinheimer, Jerry Rice, Russ Rose, David Ross, Nolan Ryan, Simon Sinek, Jerry Sloan, Tubby Smith, Bill Snyder, Brendan Suhr, Stan Van Gundy, Bill Walton, Jerry West, John Wooden, Steve Young.