How do you win three state championships while simply trying to have as much fun as possible?

Lucky for me Coach Tiger LaVerde was willing to share his secrets with the United Way of Lake County Young Leaders at Pub Frato in Concord, OH.

Coach Tiger and some of my fellow United Way Young Leaders

I was honored to be a part of such a great event and have the ability to learn from Coach LaVerde. He admitted that he doesn’t like public speaking; however, he believes getting out of your comfort zone for your community is always worth it. I was so impressed with how Coach LaVerde kept everything simple and fun. His leadership style is a perfect example of how many keys to success are mostly common sense, but rarely common practice.

Occasionally, we all suffer from the effects of the lack of common sense in our lives. Have you noticed the culture of your company, team, etc. dwindling? Are the interactions between co-workers and teammates toxic and pessimistic? If so, we all need to take a true look in the mirror at not what the problem is, but potentially who the problem is? Are we the problem? Attitude reflects leadership! (Thanks Remember the Titans!)

So how do we turn it around!?

Tiger LaVerde turned a dwindling culture around by creating an atmosphere of fun and respect. So what’s his secret? Tiger shared his team’s 4 rules that have been the foundation for his team’s turnaround.

Tiger autographing my Oil City Oilers shirt.

1. Be on time.
2. Be humble.
3. Work hard.
4. Treat others well.

He’s taken these fundamental rules of being a good role model and citizen and infused them into being a champion athlete and teammate. His athletes have a sense of honor and duty to their fellow athletes and classmates. Winning isn’t everything; however, Tiger admits that it is way more fun. Ultimately, he wants his athletes to win with class. Always making it a point to build his team up when they lose and keep them humble when they win. He continues to ask his players, “Are you a chump or a champion?”

When people ask Tiger how he keeps his team and coaches motivated his response is, “They motivate me…I drink a can of Mountain Dew and go have as much fun as possible every practice.” What I was most impressed with was his commitment to his family. He is home by 5:15pm every day. He doesn’t get caught up in the unnecessary complexities coaches add to their teams playbook, schemes, etc. His goal is to be so basic that his team can master what they do. Simplicity is truly the key to mastery.

I have three challenges for you my fellow leaders…

First, take a step back and remove at least one complexity from your business, career, life, etc. What can you do without? How could you make that area of your daily routine simpler?

Second, reflect on Coach LaVerde’s four rules to ensure that you are doing your part to contribute to a winning culture and team. Are you on time? Are you being humble? Are you working hard? Are you treating others well? If you’ve answered “no” to any of these then you’ve identified a major contributing factor to the toxicity of the culture and team you belong to. Have the guts to be the change others need.

Lastly, keep smiling, keep laughing, and keep chugging Mountain Dew.  😉

Thanks again to Coach LaVerde for being a Champion of fun, simplicity, common sense, and leadership. I look forward to the future leaders who will teach the next generation of athletes based on what they have learned from you.

Enjoy the day!

— James R. Schleicher