Using a Winning Formula for Mission Success
“You want the best players to like you for all the reasons. It won't work. It'll bite you in the bum after awhile. You need to have the same standards for everyone. You can treat people differently because each one is different, but they all have to march to the same drummer, to the same standards." – Gregg Popovich
In sports, teams that achieve repeated success tend to follow a consistent philosophy. Above all, a positive culture is crucial to organizational success. I know this personally from my time on the George Washington University Rowing Team!
Every professional sports team has talented players, but the best teams get the most out of those talents. Gregg Popovich, a five-time National Basketball Associate (NBA) champion as head coach of the San Antonio Spurs, insists that culture – not talent – is the key to his team’s success. His approach relies on identifying personnel that buy into the team philosophy. As a coach, Popovich holds everyone in the organization accountable for their designated role and believes transparency allows players to buy into the culture.
Translating Popovich’s philosophy to Government means choosing people from leadership down who truly buy in and believe in the mission and culture.
Identifying the correct personnel starts with transparency during the hiring stage. Presenting a vision for the mission to potential employees allows them to understand expectations. Knowing exactly what is expected and how to achieve success allows leadership and employees to start on the same page on day one.
Organizational transparency does not stop there. In homeland security, problems develop as challenges emerge, which can lead to a change in vision. The best way to continue organizational buy-in when faced with a change in approach is through transparency. For example, Government organizations like the Department of Homeland Security produce strategic plans to guide employees about the organization’s vision and how the organization may pivot in the event new challenges arise.
Organizations thrive when employees believe in a common goal, whether that is in sports or in Government with the critical and complex mission of protecting the American homeland. Strong leadership is the backbone to any successful organization, and the best leaders achieve buy-in through strong goal definition and transparency, even as difficult challenges emerge.