Today I attended the Messiah Business Alumni Association breakfast where I had the privilege of hearing the Messiah College men’s and women’s soccer coaches, Brad McCarty and Scott Frey respectively, speak about the reason behind the success of the school’s soccer programs. The men’s team has won the NCAA Division III National Championship an astounding eight of the last eleven years. The women’s team has tacked on three NCAA Division III National Championships of its own in the last six years. This season the women’s team also beat the previous Division III women’s soccer unbeaten record by completing 76 games over the last three seasons without a loss. Clearly, these teams are doing something right.
What may be surprising, however, is that the purpose of these two teams is not to win (yet that is exactly what they consistently do). Would they say they hoped to win? Certainly. Nobody likes losing. But winning is not what defines them. The coaches strive to create a particular culture for their teams from day one of a player’s involvement in the program to the day they graduate four years later. This culture focuses less on game results and more on the teams’ core values.
It is these core values that drive them, more than defined goals. Two of the core values I particularly found interesting were the idea of the team being a team of grace as well as what the coaches referred to as “the genius of the ‘and.’” These two values come together to mean that a soccer team does not have to get run over because they are too nice. They can show their opponents grace and they can play with an “edge.” There is no need to compromise one for the other.
Now, why were two soccer coaches speaking to a group of businesspeople? Well, there is a strong connection to be made between the mentality of these teams and the mentality many companies and individuals have within the workforce. So often the goals of a company revolve only around monetary success. Too often the focus is on the outcome rather than the process. Like winning, generating profits is important, of course. Without profits, a business cannot survive. But profit does not need to be the driving force behind a company, let alone what defines it.
A better possibility may be to build a company on core values which create a culture where the company does not need to sacrifice people for success. A culture where the journey and the process are more important than a strict focus on the bottom line. A culture where individual strengths are elevated and each employee excels at his or her particular role. When each employee’s strengths are utilized to the maximum, and motivation comes from something more meaningful than profit. An organization's purpose matters to employees.
Below I have selected some of the teams’ core values to share with you which certainly apply to business as well.
1) The team comes first. There is no place for selfishness, egotism, or envy.
2) There are no unimportant details—we do things a certain way for a reason. “Little things make big things happen.”
3) We mean no offense and take no offense with each other.
4) Team Spirit – An eagerness to sacrifice personal interest or glory for the welfare of all.
5) Do the right thing for the right reason all the time.
6) We are a team of grace.
7) We support the team mission regardless of our circumstances.
8) We are a collection of friends first, and soccer players second.
The Gallup organization has done tons of research to support what many companies have figured out - the power of engaged employees and your culture together will ultimately drive your organization to greatness.