Coach Don Meyer is a college basketball national champion and legend, compiling a record of 923-324 (74%) over four decades. He was a mentor to many successful coaches, including Tennessee’s Pat Summit. Meyer kept leadership simple and offered three basic, but highly effective rules with wide application for any organization. While his rules have a physical application, it’s the mindset behind them that makes them particularly powerful within an organization.
Coach Meyer’s Major Rule #1: Everybody takes notes.
This rule sets the tone that leaders must be learners, regardless of how well you perform or how long you have been at it. A “been there, done that” mindset will eventually ensure mediocrity as, in the words of Zig Ziglar, “it demonstrates an intelligence arrogance that leads to a disabling ignorance.” Here are three points to support Rule #1:
Coach Meyer’s Major Rule #2: Everybody says “please” and “thank you.”
Rule #2 sets a tone of mutual respect for all team members, regardless of what one’s role or title is. Showing gratitude, respect, and courtesy is contagious, and can productively shape a culture. Entitlement, disrespect, and rudeness however, can drain a culture and divide a team. Without common courtesies and respect, your culture can be infected by the following:
Coach Meyer’s Major Rule #3: Everybody picks up the trash.
Personally, this is my favorite of the three rules. It covers far more than the physical act of keeping a workplace clean. It also sends a powerful message from leadership on: how to lead by the right personal example; the importance of paying attention to detail; and an attitude that demonstrates no job is beneath the leader and that he or she is willing to do whatever it takes to contribute to the team’s welfare. In other words:
I can recall working for a dealer who owned multiple dealerships; and, whenever he would visit one, he was known for picking up the trash in his path rather than walking over it. He told me one time, “Everyone thinks I pick up the trash because I own the place. But I own the place because I’ve always had a mindset to pick up the trash—to do whatever it took to get the job done.”
Let me review what I said at the outset, to lessen the chances anyone misses the essence of these rules: “Everybody takes notes,” “Everybody says ‘please’ and ‘thank you,’” and “Everybody takes out the trash” go far beyond the technical aspects of a job one should perform or say to lead effectively. They embody the mindset behind living out these rules that helps shape a culture and build a leadership reputation that enables you to lead more effectively. They also apply equally as well at home and in other aspects of your life.