Within college basketball, UCONN’s women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma is a living legend. With 11 NCAA titles and a two-year winning streak, people pay attention to his management style.
A video of him talking about the benched and in-game players alike discusses the body language he looks for in his players. This was just after the 2017 NCAA Final Four (which was hosted in On Demand’s corporate hometown in Indianapolis):
In the video, he talks about the bad attitude of players. An attitude he does not tolerate. To Auriemma, that lousy attitude comes in the form of entitlement, not trying hard enough, and giving up too soon. Whining doesn’t get players very far, either.
We don’t explicitly train our On Demand staff to look for or judge against these characteristics. It’s human nature to be repelled by whining or people who have a sense of entitlement to anything that requires a team effort.
Coming into a job interview “upbeat and loving life”, as Auriemma calls it, makes you stand our more than any other candidate. It’s hard to recruit for in college basketball and it’s hard to recruit for in a hiring process.
Auriemma goes on to say he’s watching players on the bench as much as the ones on the court. “We put a huge premium on body language. And if your body language is bad, you will never get in the game. EVER. I don’t care how good you are….I’d rather lose than watch kids play the way some kids play. They’re allowed to get away with just whatever. And they’re always thinking about themselves: Me, me, me, me, me. ‘I didn’t score, so why should I be happy?’ ‘I’m not getting enough minutes; why should I be happy?’ That’s the world we live in today, unfortunately…Don’t get me started. When I look at my team, they know this: when I watch game film, I’m checking what’s going on on the bench. If someone’s asleep over there, if somebody doesn’t care, if somebody’s not engaged in the game, they will never get in the game. And they know I’m not kidding. ”
You’re fooling no one when you’re slacking, having a bad attitude, or holding back. It’s built into your body language. Everyone can sense it. It’s hard to be “on” every day, but if every day is an “off” day, something has to change.
Auriemma’s best players accept fair criticism and use it to improve themselves. The average-to-lesser players take it as unfair and give up. In other words, the best players want to get coached. Likewise, the best workers are the ones who want to improve. Desiring to do better and putting in the effort to do so makes people stand out.
For a lot of companies where there’s never enough staff, never enough resources, and never enough money, there’s a challenge of overcoming those obstacles. Auriemma’s approach there is to pit teams of 7 or 8 against 4 or 5. The goal to show them they have to find ways to overcome the challenge of lacking resources.
As Auriemma explains, “Everyone wants to succeed, but only some people focus on the skills to do it.”