Thursday, July 12

Leadership Thoughts (and a Video) From Hoosiers, Part I


There really aren’t many good movies about basketball. There are quite a few good imagesbaseball movies. And several good football movies. There are good track and field movies, auto racing movies, golf movies, and even rugby movies. But there is only one really good basketball movie – Hoosiers.


Not only is Hoosiers a great movie about basketball, it also contains some great principles for leaders of every type. In this post and the next one, I want to look at a couple of those principles.


The first is this: We need a firm and consistent commitment to the foundational principles that will allow us to accomplish our purpose or vision. Gene Hackman’s character in Hoosiers, the new coach at Hickory High School, stuck relentlessly to what he felt were the fundamental values of winning basketball. Conditioning. Passing. Defense. Even when their was dissent on his team, he stuck by his values. Even when immediate results weren’t evident and the team was losing, he stuck by his values. Even when there was dissatisfaction in the community and his job was in jeopardy, he stuck by his values. He was convinced that these foundational principles would produce the results desired if he continued to practice them. And, ultimately, they did. Successful coaches are really good about this. But often times other leaders are not, especially those in ministry.


This is a truth that I need to remember. There is a vision, a purpose, to which God has called us. And there are foundational values and practices that will allow us to accomplish that purpose. But these fundamentals rarely produce immediate results or overnight success. They are vital, but often not glamorous. They are things like the centrality of God’s Word, a focus on producing disciples and leaders, and investing in individuals. They are values like teaching students about intimacy with God, integrity of life, involvement in community, and influence in the world rather than just getting their bodies to a meeting. These things are like defense, passing, and conditioning to a basketball team rather than slam dunks and three-pointers. They are the foundations of continued success and accomplished purpose.


But it is easy to get distracted from them and to start looking for the next new thing. What will draw a crowd? What will make us look appealing? What will make our audience like us? What are the “successful” (meaning larger) groups doing? What tickles the ears? What appeals to the masses? What is easier? What is more immediately gratifying?


As leaders, we have to keep pointing back to the fundamentals, the foundational values that long term success is built upon. We have to be convinced that if we continue to practice these foundational things – specifically, methodically, and consistently – then we will fulfill the purpose to which we have been called.


What are the fundamental principles that are essential for success in your sphere of leadership? Are you practicing those things specifically, methodically, and consistently? Are you keeping your eyes on the vision and purpose to which you have been called and the foundational values that will get you there? Or have you allowed yourself and your organization to get distracted and off course?




As a “treat”, here is a very nice video called Hoosiers Revisited. After the next post, I’ll add a video that features players from the 1954 Milan, IN team that the movie was based on.


Brandon Smith said...

Mike...fantastic thoughts! Thanks for sharing.

I don't think I am guilty of ignoring the foundational values. My problem, I think, is that I have a hard time being patient while those things take root.

Mike said...

And, in our situations, about the time they take root our students graduate!