Is team culture developable? What contributes to healthy team culture?  Athletes will understand how the identity of the individual is separate from the identity of the team.  They will be able to define what contributes to a healthy and successful team culture and develop a system for creating an “all-in” atmosphere where the standard of behavior is understood and carried on through future classes.


What drives each member of your team to lead or make decisions?  Is it the facts?  Is it connecting with their teammates?  Is it performance?  Athletes will learn what drives their leadership style as well as the styles of their teammates and coaches.  They will outline the pros and cons of their dominate leadership style as well as the styles of others, the potential issues that could arise based on the team dynamic, and the importance of possessing diverse and adaptive leadership styles. From this lesson, new leaders will arise as well as an increased level of compassion for diverse thinkers and perspectives on the team.


Why are some teams functional and others dysfunctional?  How do groups form identities?  How is a single identity separate and different from a group identity? At the conclusion of this course, athletes will be able to define Bruce Tuckman and Joy Karriker’s theory of group dynamics.  They will identify the stage of the team currently, practice skills for moving forward, and outline methods for reaching the performing stage at the optimal time during the season.  They will understand that conflict is unavoidable, necessary to the process, and that group dynamics are forever forming and are cyclical in nature. Finally, athletes will be able to outline how consistent and positive team culture impacts and increases the efficiency of group dynamics.     


What is diversity?  Why does diversity matter on my team?  Athletes will understand that diversity is more than skin deep and is a valuable element in leadership and collaborative performance.  They will develop a deeper understanding of the diversity among their teammates and the importance of hearing diverse thoughts and ideas.  The athletes’ level of compassion for one another will increase as well as their motivation to actively engage with the less outspoken crowd.  This will develop their ability to overcome adversity more easily and enhance their comfort in speaking up and taking initiative as a new member of the athletic department.


How can you develop a culture of high level focus and growth over a sustainable amount of time without burnout; where challenges are willingly accepted, and failures are viewed stepping stones to growth?   Athletes will learn about the differences between a growth mindset and a fixed mindset.  They will be able to define how leading is learning and leading is teaching. They will understand the importance of fostering a growth mindset in regard to motivation, developing buy-in, and reaching success. Finally, they will create a toolbox of mantras, daily skills, and activities that will foster their personal mindset and the mindset of their teammates. 

What is the difference between a goal and an intention? Are long term goals helpful or hindrances to reaching success? What type of “goal setting” practices support a growth mindset?  Athletes will develop more effective practices for reaching success. They will understand how to increase their motivation, focus, and high-level performances on a daily basis. They will be able to define the differences between goals and intentions, learn to focus on tangible improvements, and be able to appreciate their experiences good and bad. They will understand how to overcome adversity more effectively and learn the value of self-compassion.  Finally, they will be able to develop tools for helping teammates reach higher daily performances as well, which will contribute to the “all-in” culture.


How does the brain learn? How can we lead our teammates more efficiently? Examining modern brain-based research, athletes will learn how the brain learns and when the brain functions at its highest capacity. They will understand attention cycles and how to reset them, chemicals that effect the brain’s ability to comprehend and retain knowledge, and the power of reflection. This will enhance the athletes’ ability to understand their personal development as well as improving communication with their teammates.


What chemicals effect the brain and body’s ability to function at a higher capacity?  What can I do to bring more positive energy to my daily work?  Athletes will be able to understand how leadership starts with the leader, and that it is a lifelong endurance—not a sprint.  Whether sleep, nutrition, hydration, rest, or stress management, athletes will develop a plan for more effective execution of their daily needs. This will allow leaders to be more compassionate, focused, and able to lead more effectively.


If conflict is unavoidable and necessary to the process towards success, how can we develop a respectful culture of feedback where conflict is approached assertively, respectfully, and received compassionately?  This course will focus on the importance of developing a baseline of mutual respect and mutual goals for all team mates and practice skills for approaching conflict assertively and timely.  Athletes will understand the importance of connecting with those you lead and create a plan for developing a culture of feedback on your team.


How can you deliver negative feedback so that it is received respectfully without defensiveness?  Athletes will understand how what is heard matters more than what was said.  They will develop skills for delivering feedback more effectively where the focus is on connection, the first 30 seconds, mutual intentions, and mutual respect.   They will practice receiving feedback and steering those towards effective communication when they feel their defensiveness hindering their ability to listen and understand. Finally, athletes will understand the value of spending time together outside the practice field or pool as well as the value of community to performance and growth.


What motivates people to follow the leadership of an individual or organization?  Do you buy into the vision of your team?  Why is buying into the vision of your team so important to the team dynamic as a whole? In this course, athletes will learn the ethical hierarchy of reasons people follow, reflect on why they follow the leadership of their team, and understand the importance of leading yourself to buy into the vision.  They will outline the flaws of a leader/follower dynamic, practice being a 360 leader, and develop a course of action for leading the group and leading themselves.


What does legacy have to do with leadership?  Why does understanding legacy increase team performance? Athletes will understand how without legacy a team’s culture is unsustainable.   They will be able to define the 7 years of legacy they directly impact during their time as a student/athlete and develop a system of impacting longer.  They will understand the value of alumni connections, who have paved the way before them, and the long-term impact they will have on the program as alumni.  


What ethical responsibilities do you have as a leader? How do your values and ethics alight with your leadership style?  Athletes will explore ethical theory and how it relates to leadership.  They will develop an understand of what it takes to be an ethical leader and the challenges of this responsibility.  They will explore examples of unethical leaders throughout history, understand the variables that go into ethical decision-making practices, and create a formula for following the most positive ethical practices.


How do you know when a follower needs more or less responsibility? How is it that one style of leadership can make someone feel overwhelmed but another micromanaged?  In this situational leadership model, athletes will explore the variables that contribute to a follower’s readiness. They will be able to gage a follower’s needs by comparing their confidence, comfort, and abilities to the task at hand.  By the end of this course, athletes will be able to tier their leadership styles for more effective connections to their diverse followers and situations.


Why do groups struggle to make decisions?  How can I make the right decision quicker?  Is it possible to make everyone happy?  Athletes will explore four methods for reaching consensus. They will compare and contract leadership styles and situational leadership models to methods for reaching consensus. These skills will allow athletes to practice more effective decision-making methods.



Now what?  This class is a reflection of the past four years.  Athletes will normalize the challenging experience that is transitioning out of an athletic career.   They will develop tools to ease the transition and understand how their athletic experience will relate to their professional career and future life. They will develop a plan for life after athletics—including exercise, goal setting, mental health, physical health, nutrition, etc.—and they will create a system for alumni engagement.