Winner’s Minutes: Leadership Principles: Do you Know What Really Matters?

Most leaders don’t know that when you ask a question and your team members respond with, “I don’t know,” that they mean it?


Eighty-five percent of your team members are not self-aware. They don’t ask questions like:

  • Why did I say that?
  • Why did I do that?
  • What caused me to react that way?
  • Why have I married three times and every time ended up in the same relationship even though it was with a different person?

You cannot manage your emotions if you are not aware of why you have them. If you can’t manage your emotions, you will not be able to manage your relationships.

So…what really matters in your life?


Your ability to intimately know who you are.

One of my coaching clients who I will call, “Barb,” called me yesterday to tell me that she finally found out why she becomes a warrior when backed into a corner. We’ve been working on her tendency to lash out towards her partner for weeks.

Barb told me a couple of weeks ago that she loved being a bitch, because it gave her power.

My response was, “Really? So…the rest of the time you are powerless?”

Barb didn’t like my response, but I’m not in the business for people to like me. I’m here to assist people to look deeply into themselves to discover the whys.

Barb’s why was because when she was ten years old, her father died. All the people around her treated her like she was too young to understand. They didn’t have honest conversations with her, leaving her out of the loop when discussing their heartaches, worries, and anger.

Barb felt powerless. Powerless to bring her father back. Powerless because nobody heard her or saw her. Powerless because she felt that God had abandoned her.

What happened to you five, ten, twenty, or thirty years ago, if left unexamined, can control your life today.

Most people poo-poo that their past is the reason for their current relationships and situations, and for that reason most people won’t do the work necessary to evolve.

Because Barb is brave enough to be honest with herself, her relationship with her husband is improving. Her life is evolving.

Most people won’t do the work. Don’t be like most people!

Be unique. Take the time to unravel your whys to free yourself to move forward in life.

“Don’t let your past be the reason why your tomorrows are unpromising.”

Coach Winn




Leadership Principles: Keeping Your Integrity

Leadership Principles: Keeping Your Integrity

WINNER’S MINUTES: Leadership Principles: Keeping Your Integrity

How does surrendering your integrity hurt your leadership?

Politics are a nasty business; that is why I won’t play them. In politics, it is about winning at any cost. Some politicians might convince themselves that winning is for their constituents, but that is like cheating in a game to win. You tell yourself a lie so that you feel better about the outcome.

When I was a coach, I had a code for leadership integrity. I heard many other coaches tell me that they didn’t observe the twenty-hour practice rule that the NCAA dictated. They claimed that if they adhered to the rule then they would lose, because every other program was cheating.

“The more people rationalize cheating, the more it becomes a culture of dishonesty. And that can become a vicious, downward cycle. Because suddenly, if everyone else is cheating, you feel a need to cheat, too.”
—Stephen Covey

Our basketball staff did not break the twenty-hour practice rule, and we found ways to win. I couldn’t bear the thought of teaching my players that to win, we had to cheat. That was like telling them that they weren’t good enough, and the only way we were going to defeat an opponent was by breaking the rules. What kind of leader teaches her players that cheating is the only way to success?

Maybe you’ve rationalized that the means justifies the end. After all, a leader you idolized might have taught you that.

But what have you lost if you’ve surrendered your integrity?

Would you be surprised if your team members lied to you, misinformed you, stole from you? If you have taught them to devalue integrity, then you should not be surprised. You should have seen their treachery coming.

You taught them it was okay.

When I was a high school athlete, we played a team where they intentionally angered me to disrupt my performance. The first game we played them, I scored 45 points. They radically altered their game plan in our second contest. They started a player whose sole responsibility was to foul me hard the first four times I touched the ball.

On her fourth foul, the coach took her out and replaced her with the original starter. By that time, I had lost my cool.
I was too angry to play. They won, and we lost. They taunted me afterwards about how I played right into their hands.

If I would have been a professional athlete, maybe I could have handled the situation better, but I was a 15-year-old girl.
I never forgot the tears I shed over that game, and I was determined to never make any other athlete feel that way. During the years I coached, we either won via our great game plan and talent or we lost.


So when another leader suggests that you can’t win unless you cheat, you know that they don’t belief they are good enough to play with their talents.

“Nobody can give you integrity or buy your integrity. You earn integrity every day by living it.”

Coach Winn


A Key Leadership Principle: Communication

A Key Leadership Principle: Communication

When I speak all around the country about leadership principles, the number one question I receive is: “How do I effectively communicate with my team members?”

Most leaders struggle because they believe effective communication is about talking.
While talking is important, you might have also heard this adage, “You were given two ears and one mouth, so you could listen twice as much as you speak.”

How many leaders understand that the most powerful tool in communication is listening?

In Stephen Covey’s book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Covey relayed seven key leadership principles. Habit Number Five was: “Seek first to understand and then to be understood.” Covey determined that people were not going to listen or be inspired to work harder you if you failed to invest in them.

Covey understood that when people feel heard, they feel valued.

If you want to motivate your team members to perform at their highest potential, practice listening. Invest in the importance of hearing what your team members want to share.

While training for the 1988 Olympics, my coach, Misha, was a native Hungarian. As a Hungarian, he was taught that coaches demanded, commanded, and ordered their team members on the court. As a result, a chasm developed between the team and him.

He ordered us. We revolted. He commanded. We balked. He demanded. We cringed.
When he asked a question and a team member dared to answer, the team member was shot down.

The gap between team and coach expanded.

Despite the talent and experience that we possessed, we failed to win a medal during the 1988 Olympics.

Misha blamed us.

We blamed him.

The true culprit was the lack of understanding of the crucial leadership principle of communication. If Misha would have possessed the communication tools to listen to us, he would have learned how fatigued we were. He would have heard that we needed less yelling and more encouragement. He would have given us constructive feedback rather than negative criticism.

Both of us would have benefitted, because when we won, he would have won.
Listening is a challenging skill, because you must put yourself second. You must be in the here and now, get rid of your need to respond immediately, and allow your team member the benefit of your full attention.
When you pay attention to the leadership principle of active listening, you gain as much as your team member.

“Your ability to lead is dependent upon your ability to listen.”
Coach Winn