Last Monday night we all had the privilege of watching the Baylor Men’s Basketball team annihilate the Gonzaga Bulldogs. Gonzaga came into the game undefeated, but the game was a blowout for Baylor with a wire to wire win. It was a proud night in our family – me a Baylor Alumni and my 2 daughters having recently graduated from Baylor. 

Many experts said this was one of the best total basketball teams assembled in years within college basketball. The strategy that has gone into building this team is evident with Baylor having 8 starters on the team. For those who aren’t basketball aficionados, it is a very rare feat to have that many great players on one team simultaneously. 

So, what created such a great team for Baylor this year? The leadership and culture implemented by Scott Drew, the Baylor coach of 18 years now. Drew built his team on a culture of JOY (Jesus, Others, then Yourself), family and commitment to each other that has become a staple in the Baylor program for years. If you watched this team play this year, they were totally selfless, and wanted to see their teammates excel.   How often do we see this in sports or business today, where many live in an all about me world? It was something Drew brought with him from his days sharing the gym with his family who have a deep heritage in college basketball. 

Drew stated, that “We spend so much time with our players and staff. If you’re not with people that you love, life’s too short to be with people you don’t want to be around,” he says. “You play and compete harder for people that you love than the ones that you don’t.” Remember, you spend most of your waking hours in life at work, why not do it for a company with a great culture and with people you love working with?

Drew was very intentional about recruiting the best players who would fit the culture, not just the best athletes. He also red-shirts most freshman players so they can learn the culture and the system of the program. When he was missing a key piece to the puzzle, he would get a transfer in who would fit the program and culture.

Culture encompasses the standards and behaviors of an organization as well as the ways of interacting that define it and give it a unique social and psychological environment. There are a few key lessons which can be gained here for all business leaders:

  1. Create the right culture for your organization and implement it throughout
  2. Hire your employees for a culture fit, not just people who have talent and a great resume
  3. Culture is not easily copied and it is the main advantage you have over your competition
  4. Building culture can take time, but it is worth the investment. It will improve your brand identity, increase employee retention and may help you win your championship!

Take a page out of Drew’s playbook, if you have the right culture and strategy, fill key roles in the company with employees who fit the culture, success will come as a natural output. Spend time discussing culture with your employees and what makes you different from your competitors. This recipe will create a great ROI for your business in the long run.