National Championship Coach UNC Roy Williams on Leadership

Seems like we just can’t get away from talking about leadership.  There might be more leadership quotes, articles, flyers, etc… out there than anything else.

This was very simple, yet very profound.



National Championship Coach UNC Roy Williams on Leadership

As part of the cutting edge Carolina Leadership Academy, UNC national champion men’s basketball coach Roy Williams recently shared his insights on leadership and team building as well as some behind the scenes stories during Carolina’s run to the 2005 National Championship.

Photo courtsey of NY Daily News Lecka/Getty

Here are some of the highlights from Coach Williams talk with the Tar Heels captains and coaches:

1. Trust is the foundation of leadership.

Coach William’s first goal when he made the transition from Kansas to Carolina was to establish a sense of trust with the UNC players. “You’ve got to get your players to believe in you.” Coach Williams immediately scheduled individual meetings with each of the players to begin the trust-building process. Because first impressions are so important, especially when taking over a different program, Coach Williams wanted to start off on the right foot with each of the players.

2. We’ll have a chance to win it all next year…

Coach Williams told the UNC players that if they did exactly what he and his staff asked them to do, they would make the NCAA tournament in the first year and have a chance to win it all in the second year. This inspiring vision gave the players an exciting goal to shoot for as well as a realistic time line to accomplish it. It set the program’s expectations from the onset and gave them a motivating reason for the daily work they would need to do.

3. Coaching is about adjustments.

Your game plan is only good for the first six minutes – the rest is all about adjustments. According to Coach Williams, coaching (and playing for that matter) is all about adjustments. You can and should formulate a game plan going in, but much of your team’s success depends on your ability to make efficient and effective adjustments. As a coach you must be able make the strategically adjustments, but just as important, you must help your team make the mental adjustments that need to be made to manage the momentum of competition.

4. You can push them but you can’t go personal.

Many thought former North Carolina coach Matt Doherty was excused because the Tar Heel players thought he was too tough on them. Interestingly, most Carolina insiders note that Coach Williams is much more demanding of his players than was Coach Doherty. The primary difference lies in how Coach Williams is tough on them. Coach Williams insists that you can and must push your players – but you can’t make it personal. Much like effective parenting, coaches should criticize the behavior, not the person.

5. Regardless of how hard you work, I will be working harder.

It all starts at the top. Coach Williams talked about how his passion, commitment, and work ethic must set the tone for everyone in the program. He has to continually demonstrate in his actions the standard necessary to achieve success. The players see how much he invests in them and the program and are naturally inspired to give a high level of commitment back to him.

6. I’ll take a person who is a little short on ability and academics, but I will not take anyone who is short on character.

For Coach Williams, character in recruiting is a non-negotiable factor. He flat out refuses to sign anyone who is not a person of character. “You can’t consistently win that way, and it certainly is not as much fun.” This bedrock principle was especially satisfying to hear in light of today’s Terrell Owens-type athletes.

7. Be on the lookout for the little things in recruiting.

While he is a very personable guy, Coach Williams directly tells people not to chit-chat with him over the summer when he is recruiting. From the time he walks into the gym before games start to the end of the day, he is on a mission. Coach Williams meticulously watches EVERYTHING a potential Carolina recruit does. He especially watches how kids act before and after games, how they interact with coaches, teammates, parents, and officials. He even watches water breaks closely.

He related a story about current Atlanta Hawk and last season’s ACC Freshman of the Year Marvin Williams: Marvin fouled out near the end of a close AAU game. His coach called a time out to talk with the rest of the players. Marvin ran to the end of the bench and filled cups of water for each of his teammates who were still in the game as a way to contribute even though he was on the bench with five fouls. “I don’t want the kids who are too cool. I want guys who are focused on how they can help the team. I absolutely love it when the best player on the team is also the best leader.”

8. Winning TEAMS get the individual awards and rewards.

Coach Williams continuously stressed to his players that the end of the year individual awards and rewards go to the teams that win the most games. Player of the Year and All-Conference Awards almost always go to players on the teams that win the most. Thus, Coach Williams team approach would yield the collective rewards of a championship season as well as the individuals awards.


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