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  • Writer's pictureDavid and Marilynn Chadwick

Leadership Principles: The Team Before the Individual

The team before the individual. This leadership principle was ingrained from Coach Dean Smith to every member of the UNC basketball team. In fact, if I had to choose one mantra that drove Coach Smith, this would be it. It was always about the team. About unity. Being of one mind together. Coach Smith knew that if the team wasn’t strong, it did not matter the success of individual players. This simple principle by which he lived is rooted in biblical truth. Philippians 2:2 says we are to be “like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.” Ephesians 4:3 says, “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” Under Coach Smith, if you scored a basket, you had to point to the person who gave you the pass. If you did not, you would be on the bench. Someone had to sacrifice the ball in order for the other player to score. Coach Smith wanted every one of his players, the fans in attendance, and all of those watching on national television to see who gave the pass and not just who scored the basket. To give credit where credit was due. To honor the behind the scenes role that led to visible success. To value the team before the individual. Coach Smith also said that if you dove on the floor for a loose ball, the closest player to you had to come and help you up. The one who sacrificed his body for a loose possession was to receive thanks and appreciation by the one closest to him. If Coach Smith noticed that someone did not do this, the entire team had to run the next day. As a leader, how are you doing developing a team? Are you thinking about the culture of the whole and not just the individual? In one-on-one interactions, are you considering how decisions affect the team and not just the person with whom you are dealing? Leaders are always intentional about creating a strong, unified, healthy team. Our Leadership Principles blog series is inspired by David's book "It's How You Play the Game: The 12 Leadership Principles of Dean Smith." If you would like to receive this book, please go here.


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