(In Part 1 of this article series originated from Keith Grabowski’s “Coach and Coordinator” podcast, Brian Kight, CEO of Focus 3, discussed the importance of entwining the human system with the athletic system when building a successful football program.)
The CEO of Focus 3, an integral industry player in the areas of organizational performance and leadership teaching, points to one word as the buzzword in developing a successful football program – TRUST! “Trust is a topic which should never be understated,” said Brian Kight during his appearance on USA Football’s “Coach and Coordinator” podcast. “Trust is derived directly throughout a football program when all involved instill the human system within the team’s culture.
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“Improving the ‘human’ system translates into players coming to understand the trust involved in their personal assignments. It’s how the assignment of you, a lineman, has a direct effect on the safety or linebacker behind you. You are doing your role. It becomes more than an assignment and it becomes you trusting, caring and being concerned for the players around you. This becomes a personal and human issue more so than an athletic issue.”
If there is another buzzword occupying Kight’s mind, it’s that of alignment. He acknowledges alignment of the human system throughout the program culture is tantamount to overall success. “Alignment is not controlled but created,” cautioned Kight.
Head Coach Alignment + Staff Alignment + Team Alignment = Program Success
Kight is a proponent of the familiar K.I.S.S. coaching acronym. “It’s so important to keep it simple and focus on the core messages. It’s not just unique to football. Our Fortune 500 global organization clients, school districts and others must understand this.” It’s no secret the complexities of the world are constantly battling the simple approach. “Simplicity wins,” said Kight sternly. “What is simple is executed. What is complex is actually the enemy of execution.”
Accountability is another subject Kight touched on during the podcast. He would like to see more organizations change from what he deemed the “punishment mode.” “When someone you report to tells you to be accountable, you don’t like it,” said Kight. “It’s the assumption you did something wrong.” He would like to see a correction when the talk turns to accountability.
“Accountability is really the act of observing and doing something from what you observed,” said Kight. He realizes most focus on pointing out the bad but it needs to incorporate successes as well. “It’s as much about celebration and pointing out priorities as it is to pointing out errors and gaps. Problems occur when we don’t acknowledge what’s done properly.”
The leadership teacher has a simple process for accountability:
“It’s a connection to earning alignment,” said Kight. “You earn alignment by showing us who you are and how you act. Naturally, we as coaches will explain it first and let everyone understand the team’s culture. It’s simple. Do well and you receive rewards. Not doing well? We will coach you up. Now, if you’re not meeting the standards we will push you.” The last point by Kight is where a little discomfort may come about for the player.
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“The coach is saying the player is basically a good person, but without aligning with the culture, there is no comfort,” said Kight. “In other words, if the player refuses to align, it is going to be very uncomfortable.”
All of this strikes in the face of the current societal trend of letting people be themselves and Kight wholeheartedly agrees to a point. “You do get to be you,” started Kight, “but there are consequences for choosing who you want to be.” Kight wants everyone to understand there are always consequences of how others react to a person’s decisions. He counters, “Embrace uniqueness…but align with us. There’s room for both.”
Kight knows alignment is not by chance, but by choice. “Make it a choice to align with our team culture. A lot of coaches talk of absorbing the culture. That’s not right. If you absorb something, you are operating out of compliance.” Kight speaks in terms of absorbing early in life – from environment, family or where a person resides. “That’s absorbing something,” said Kight. “Do I want this in my life? There’s where choice comes about. You make the choice to go with what’s been around you or you accept an opportunity to change.”
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Culture and alignment must be socially evident according to the Focus 3 CEO. “Coaches and players must demonstrate the cultural ways of the program socially. It has to be a part of everyone’s behavioral patterns. If the alignment isn’t a part of the social makeup, then what’s happening socially becomes a stronger guide than your alignment.” Lastly, Kight stresses alignment must include three components: Fun, rewarding and productive.
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