Archive for Friday, November 15, 2002

Coach says teamwork key to building success

November 15, 2002


In Lawrence, a business owner's dream may be to be as successful as Roy Williams.

On Thursday, about 200 business owners and other community members attended a chamber of commerce event to get tips on business success from the Kansas University men's basketball coach.


Williams specifically talked about building teamwork in a business environment.

"There's two things I think you always have to do to be successful," Williams said. "You've got to get people moving together toward a common goal and you have to be concerned about what each of your players wants out of life. Then you put those two together. And then you've got to do that every day."

Williams spoke as part of the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce's new business breakfast series called Chamber A.M. He had advice on several other leadership topics.

  • Encouragement. "Look on your team and see if there is someone as lucky as Roy Williams," Williams said. "I say that because do you know what I get to do every morning? I get to get up and do what I love.

"Look out on your team and see if there is someone there who has that same possibility, and then encourage them. Make them feel good. You'll be doing the greatest service in the world if you do that."

  • Feedback. Williams said he learned from his favorite high school teacher, Ms. Baldwin, that the best type of feedback is immediate feedback. He said Baldwin always delivered graded tests to students the day after they took them. He said he tried to emulate that approach with his team.

"Let people know the mistakes they have made and the good things they've done while it is still on the top of their head," Williams said.

  • Clear communication. Williams told the crowd to make sure their team members understood the value of following simple directions.

"I tell every freshman class the easiest way to be successful at Kansas is to do what I tell them to do," Williams said. "It is a real simple concept. If I tell you to go to class, you know what I want you to do? Go to class. If I tell you to meet your tutor at 2 o'clock, do you know what I want you to do? Meet your tutor at 2, not 2:15."

  • Pressure. Williams told the crowd to be careful about applying unnecessary pressure to team members.

He told a story about a father of a KU player who ran up to the team bus before a big game and told his son that he had to play extra well because there were 12 NBA scouts in the stands.

"Here we are trying to win a big game and he put that extra pressure on him," Williams said. "I just saw the kid melt. He played the worst game he ever played for us, and we lost the game."

  • Motivation. Williams said it's important to find out what power you have to motivate your team on a daily basis. He said for him it often is his ability to make his KU players run at the end of practice.

"That's one thing I have going for me," Williams said. "At the end of practice, when I tell them to get on the end line, they want me to be in a good mood."

  • Fear. Williams said it also wasn't bad to let players be motivated by their own fear, as long as you don't overdo it.

"Sometimes motivation by fear is OK if you don't do it all the time," Williams said.

In fact, Williams said he'll use some of that this week as his team prepares for its first game in the preseason NIT against Holy Cross on Tuesday. If the Jayhawks lose the game, they won't qualify for any of the tournament's three other games.

"The best way I'll motivate our team for Holy Cross is by telling them if they lose that game they'll have 15 straight days of practice," Williams said to laughter. "You giggle, but they won't."

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