Coaching Leadership

As a person who lives in Knoxville, you can’t help to hear about U.T. football coaching…especially these past few weeks.  For the past three years, The University of Tennessee’s football program has been steadily declining and piling on loosing games.  From someone on the outside looking in, it the team appeared to have a lack of leadership from when it came to performance on the field.  This led the University to fire their head coach and search for another coach who can inspire their team and coach them back up to the status U.T. once had in the SEC.

While the University was searching for a new coach, everyone kept jumping on and off different bandwagons.

Jon Gruden

  • Before he denied the rumors of taking the job: Everyone praised Jon Gruden and declared him a “Tennessee Boy” coming home.
  • After he shot down the rumors of being U.T.s next coach: People were very quick to point out the fact he has NEVER been a head coach of any college.

Mike Gundy

  • Before he decided to stay at Oklahoma State: U.T. fans praised Coach Gundy for coaching his team to the Big 12 Title last year.
  • After he decided to stay at Oklahoma State: U.T. fans remembered the following clip.

Charlie Strong

  • Before he decided to stay at Louisville: People where quick to point out how he got his start in the SEC.
  • After he turned down Tennessee: People where quick to point out how he wasn’t a top tier coach.

Before U.T. was desperate enough to reach out to Bobby Petrino, the University approached Butch Jones and he graciously accepted the head coaching position at U.T.  During his press conference on Friday, Coach Jones focused on leadership and team building both on and off the field.

Tennessee fans are worried, but here’s an example of what Jim Mora was able to do this year with UCLA.  For those who aren’t familiar with Coach Mora, just keep in mind Coach Jim Mora didn’t have a great winning record coming into his coaching job at UCLA.

  • Last season, the UCLA Bruins were 6-8
  • This season, under Coach Mora, this team is 9-3 and the Bruins are competing in bowl game later this year.

What’s the difference between this year’s team and last year’s team?  Did he recruit a whole new class of football players?  No, in fact most of the starters this season where on the team last season.

Coach Mora and his staff of coaches actually coached up the team to a winning record.  Mora is even a finalist for the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year Award.

It’s amazing what good coaching can do for a team, even when it comes to business.  While learning about Coach Mora’s success at UCLA, I thought about companies that were at a low point but turned things around by receiving new leadership.  When Steve Jobs returned to Apple in 1996, he was able to turn Apple into a household name.  As Domino’s CEO, J. Patrick Doyle has led the company to high profits while repositioning the restaurant chain as the top pizza makers in the U.S.

Even on at my place of employment, I have seen a department at our Bank improve this year largely due to new leadership from an individual who is an excellent coach.  This particular leader is able to work well with our CEO and is able to grow her staff by providing open communication and giving them opportunities to learn.  Instead of finding fault, she is able find the potential in her team; which has improved profitability throughout her department.

Do you have a leader in your life that helps you excel by coaching you through the good times and the tough times?  Maybe it was a high school coach, a teacher in you had in school or maybe its your boss at work.

For all the Vol fans out there, I hope Coach Jones is able to lead your team to success this year.  That is unless they play the Mountaineers of West Virginia.


Banks: Mobile Apps vs. Social Media

SmartphoneBanks are gearing up for strategic planning.  It’s the time of year where banks are evaluating ideas that have been tossed around all year and will decide what direction to take their company in 2013.  Two items that keep creating buzz inside and outside the banking industry are Social Media and Mobile Apps.  Both carry a good list of pros and cons that must be weighed out before an organization decides to test the waters.  Here are just a couple


  1. Communication: Social Media outlets are a great way to stay connected with you customers and allows customers to connect with your company in a unique way.  Until the last few years, companies sent talking points down via advertisements and press releases, but now customers can expand on talking points via twitter, Facebook and blogging platforms.  Depending on how many and what type of Mobile Apps your bank has, you can allow customers more communication to your bank.  They can check their account balances, post questions, report a stolen/lost Debit card and even deposit a check with their Smartphone.
  2. Education: Both Social Media and Mobile Apps allow you the opportunity to educate your customer base when it comes to financial responsibility, community involvement opportunities and general information about your Bank.  Banks can create a blog dedicated to establishing a “savings” mentality, or post a video on YouTube describing how to use online bill pay tools.  Mobile apps showing customers their spending habits can help people realize where they can curb unnecessary cost and improve household income.


  1. Communication: There is a possibility that a customer may give too much information.  There is also a possibility that a demented, frustrated banker may throw a wrench into your app and cause headaches for your customers.
  2. Education (or lack there of): If your bankers are unsure how to use your mobile apps, then how can they sale it?  Better yet, how can they provide customer service when someone calls about a problem?  If you have a Facebook page and no one knows about it, how effective is it?

Do the pros outweigh the cons?  Well if you ask me (a marketing/customer service driven community banker), then YES.  But that’s just one man’s humble opinion.

If you do decide to pursue either trending tech area this coming year, consider some of the following points:

  • Know Your Customer Base: If your customer base is small business owners who focus on B2B materials, would it make any sense to create a Pinterest account for your bank?  If your customer base is retail driven in a rural market, do you want to have an app specific to shopping in highly populated urban areas?  Think about your niche market first, then build around it.
  • Create a Diverse Team: I once heard a “Social Media Expert” brag about how they created their company’s Facebook page and how people in her company referred to her as that “Facebook person.”  That may have worked for that one person and may have even improved their Klout score, but would it not have been more effective if that person would have led a team of people in the company?  By pulling in people from different departments and locations, you will be able to get a better idea of what to create and know what possible obstacles lie ahead for your new app or social media site.
  • Get Buy-In from EVERY Level: From the Board of Directors to your part-time document imaging processor, everyone needs to know what is happening.  This will help with any customer issues that may come down the road and will keep everyone at your bank on the same page.

So, does your Bank plan on starting or improving your social media strategy for 2013?  Has your bank created a mobile banking plan for the coming year?


foosballLast weekend, I got together with some friends to say goodbye to one friend who is moving out-of-town.  As we were finishing up the night, one of my friends challenged me to a game of Foosball.  I couldn’t remember the last time I played Foosball.  My friend, an avid Foosball player, easily beat me.

As we laughed off my embarrassing defeat, he asked me what type of bar game I prefer to play.  I told him darts and when he asked why.  I told him why I enjoyed darts (particularly Cricket); it had to do with individual focus.

Unlike Foosball and Pool table games, winning in a game of darts rest solely on the focus on the player.  Removing all distractions from your mind and focusing on the bullseye is easier said than done…especially when in a crowded, loud bar.  If you can’t remove yourself from all the distractions and focus, you can’t win the game.

The same can be said in business.  Around this time of year, many businesses are creating a strategic plan for the coming year.  It’s a great time to gather people for different departments in a company and focus on what needs to be accomplished in the coming year.  It’s important that an organization stay focused.

  • Remove the noise.  Everyone has an idea that can improve your company.  Some ideas are good, some come from left field.  The sooner you eliminate the ideas that don’t match your company culture, the sooner you can connect the good ideas.
  • Review the past.  Compare notes from previous annual strategic planning meetings.  Is there a common theme or is it all across the board?
  • Remain open minded.  It is great to have everyone on the same page, but there is a difference between everyone in agreement and being surrounded by “Yes” men.  Let everyone know it is okay to have separate opinions and to be honest with their communication.

Once your company creates your strategic plan, keep it top of mind.  Unfortunately there are companies that create a strategic plan and they do nothing with it.

Tie in an Action Plan

To make sure your strategic plan doesn’t gather dust, make sure each point has an action plan.  The plan should contain details such as individuals who are responsible for executing that section of the plan, steps needed to complete the plan, and a time table for each part of the action plan.

Share the Strategic Plan

Don’t keep your strategic plan in a filing cabinet; share it throughout your organization.  Make sure everyone, from the Board of Directors, to your part-time staff, knows your what your company wants to accomplish.  This will strengthen your organization and hold your company accountable for completing the strategic plan.

Staying focused isn’t easy, and requires a lot of energy, but in the end it is work it.  So, stay focused, don’t pay attention to the drunk at the bar, and hit the bullseye!

%d bloggers like this: