Shabazz Napier is an outstanding college basketball player. Last week, he led the University of Connecticut to victory in the National Championship. In the process, Napier was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four. But it’s what Napier said in the moments following the championship game that I want to focus on today. In an interview on the court after the game, Napier exclaimed, “That’s what you get when you ban us.”
The University of Connecticut basketball team was banned from postseason play last year for failing to meet the academic progress standards set by the governing body of national collegiate athletics. And this is what makes Napier’s statement so troubling. As we see too often in society, when Napier says, “when you ban us”, he shifts accountability from the players and the University who failed to meet objective academic progress criteria, to a governing body that simply administers the consequences of failing to meet the standards.
Accountability is such an important part of leading successful organizations. It is up to us, as leaders, to be accountable and to hold our team members accountable. We must listen carefully for comments and phrases that indicate our team members are not being accountable and we need to address these right away. In addition, we must monitor our own language to make sure we are always being accountable to our teams and the organizations we lead.
Shabazz Napier is a young man who in the excitement of winning a national championship didn’t have time to think about what he was saying. I am hopeful that at some point after this his coaches took him aside and said, “Shabazz, it’s true that the postseason ban motivated our team, but remember, we did this to ourselves. As a University, we failed to meet the standards that were in place. We banned ourselves and we must take responsibility for that. But the happy ending is that we learned from it, we overcame the adversity, we persevered, and we stand here now as champions. But this ban was our own fault, not the fault of anyone else.”
As leaders, we have a responsibility to coach our team members in this way. I am hopeful that it happened with Napier. But either way, you can instill this type of coaching to promote accountability with your team.
Thanks for reading,
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Book – 100 Yards of Success: Leadership Lessons from College Football, http://www.tatepublishing.com/bookstore/book.php?w=978-1-62510-731-2