We have all heard players and coaches who have just won a big game or a championship talk about the incredible team culture that made them persevere and reach this pinnacle of their careers. They often speak about their team culture with great pride and with an aura of mysticism.
As a coach you want to create a good team culture, whatever that might be, but it’s probably a team culture that increases the chance of your team winning more games. You’ve read about great teams and great coaches who’ve been able to install a team culture that produced results. Some with many rules for the players, some with less, some teams were driven by the leadership of star players and some teams was a true collective lead by your favorite coach to success.
After all of this talk you hear about team culture and organizational culture you might start wondering what it actually is. What does culture mean? Is it going to the theater, the art museum or going to the game? Your team doesn’t go to the theater every day together, you go to practice to improve and increase the chance of winning the next game.
A wise man once said that culture is everything. He further stated that most people think culture is only what you see (as our example with the theater) but it’s really everything around you, all the time. So if team culture is a specification of culture in general, that means it has to be everything in the context of the team. Since everything is a lot, let’s try to make it a bit more specific.
What this wise man tried to say was that culture is everything that influences the behavior of people. So team culture would be everything that influences the players behavior, how they interact, with each other, staff members and outsiders in the context of being a member of the team. Or in other words “In our team we behave like ‘this’ (whatever that might be)”.
But what is it that influences the behavior of your players in your team? Since everything that influences the interactions by your players is your team culture, knowing what these things are gives you the opportunity to influence and maybe even change them, and as a result change your current team culture.
So what will influence your team culture? Let’s start off with some things that are more difficult to influence and end up with what you actually can control as a coach. The country and society that you work in, the origin of your players and their upbringing is something you probably can’t do much about. There’s a certain history and expectations at your club that will influence your team culture along with your organizations way of conducting its business.
You also have influences from the environment around your team, and even though the climate might be hard to change, the facilities where you train and spend most of your time together might be easier to do something about. What you as the coach can most definitely affect however is how you and your staff behave as leaders, making sure that you lead by example to actively promote the behaviors you want in your team culture.